BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The Bismarck Tribune, Bismarck, June 3, 2015
EPA, corps need to listen, change
Clean, safe water should be the goal of everyone. The Environmental Protection Agency, however, has found a way to create division over the issue.
Last week the EPA issued new rules intended to protect small streams, tributaries, wetlands and the drinking water of 117 million Americans. The rules were quickly criticized by Republicans, farm groups and others. This is not a surprise as the rules have been under fire for some time. It also highlights the tendency of the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which was involved in establishing the rules, to ignore public comment and bull ahead.
The EPA argues that Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006 left 60 percent of the nation's streams and millions of acres of wetlands without clear federal protection. The agency decided to resolve the issue. EPA says the rules will clarify which waters fall under the Clean Water Act. A tributary must show evidence of flowing water to be protected — such as a bank or a high-water mark. President Barack Obama said the rules will hold polluters accountable.
The agriculture industry has been concerned about the regulation of drainage ditches, but the EPA and corps said the only ditches that will be covered are those that look, act and function like tributaries and carry pollution downstream. The agencies also said the rules have been rewritten since last year so they are clearer, but not clear enough to calm the storm that greeted them.
North Dakota's congressional delegation has opposed the rules, warning that the agriculture industry fears a regulatory nightmare. The House voted to block the regulations last month, and a Senate committee is planning to consider a similar bill this summer.
Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem says the state would consider joining a legal challenge to the rules and his office is reviewing the rules.
It's time for the EPA and corps to work with Congress on a proposal both sides can live with. Farmers fear that the federal government will try to regulate all the bodies of water in the prairie pothole region, burying landowners in an avalanche of paperwork.
The EPA and corps need to prove to critics the rules won't infringe on them. The agencies should be willing to listen and compromise.
Minot Daily News, Minot, June 3, 2015
Change energy policy
Oil and natural gas are being used as geopolitical weapons like never before in history. Russia's Vladimir Putin has become perhaps the world's most skillful, effective practitioner. His strategy, already far advanced, is to bend Europe to his will by threatening to cut off the oil and gas Russia supplies it.
Meanwhile, U.S. energy policy is the laughing stock of the world. It simply makes no sense. In part because it places so many barriers in the way of domestic oil production, it puts us at the mercy of countries such as those in OPEC, from which we continue to import huge quantities of oil. That is despite the fact the U.S. has become the world's leading oil producer.
A bill introduced in the Senate would repeal the ban on exports of American oil. Doing that would encourage more domestic drilling, providing even more oil. It would create new jobs. It would allow U.S. diplomats to use energy as a weapon, perhaps aiding our allies.
At one time there was a good reason to ban exports of U.S. oil. No more. Times have changed — and so should energy policy.