Posts tagged: EPA
Released this week, the latest thriller by New York Times best-selling author C.J. Box is inspired by the plight of Pacific Legal Foundation’s clients, Mike and Chantell Sackett of Priest Lake, Idaho, (pictured) who fought all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court for their right to challenge the abusive treatment they received from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “Breaking Point” (G.P. Putnam’s Sons) is C.J. Box’s thirteenth novel featuring Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett. The drama swirls around the murder of two EPA agents, the manhunt for a suspect, and the “breaking point” pressures on two men — Joe Pickett himself, and Butch Roberson, a local business owner whose life has been ripped apart by a federal agency’s cold-hearted bureaucratic arrogance. “‘Breaking Point’ is loosely based on the Sackett case, but with several fictional twists,” said C.J. Box. “It’s a cautionary tale of what unchecked bureaucrats can do — and did — to ordinary folks under the radar in fly-over country/Pacific Legal Foundation news release. More here.
Rep. Mike Simpson once said the Environmental Protection Agency is the scariest federal bureaucracy of them all — surpassing even the IRS. Simpson now says, somewhat grudgingly, that the statement was “inappropriate.” But he doesn’t back away from his criticism of the EPA, nor his attempts to slash the agency’s budget. The EPA has become a red meat talking point for Republicans on the campaign trail. But the criticisms are a bit hazy — and the reality considerably more complex. When Simpson met with the Statesman editorial board last month, we interviewed him at length about the EPA. I gave his staff the heads up beforehand. Since Simpson is the chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over the EPA, he’s on the front line of the budget debate. So I wanted Simpson to explain his concerns with EPA. It’s a sketchy case, I must say/Kevin Richert, Idaho Statesman. More here.
Question: Do you consider the EPA necessary? A necessary evil? Or simply evil?
Coeur d’Alene got its goats, and the city isn’t the least bit annoyed by it. City water officials long have wanted to use goats to mow down weeds at municipal well sites, but a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rule prohibits livestock at such sources of drinking water. The city’s water department said today it was able to convince state regulators that goats don’t pose the same health threat as cows, whose manure can contaminate groundwater with the E. coli bacteria. The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality has granted the city a waiver to use goats for weed control at any of its nine well sites. The city will begin this weekend with a tribe of 20 to 25 pygmy goats inside a fenced well near the traffic circle at Kathleen Avenue and Fourth Street, south of Coeur d’Alene High School/Scott Maben, SR. More here. (SR photo: Kathy Plonka)
Question: Have you ever milked a goat?
Here's Congressman Raul Labrador's reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in favor of Chantelle & Mike Sackett of Priest Lake: “I am overjoyed by the unanimous ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court in favor of my constituents, Chantelle and Mike Sackett of Priest Lake, in their case against the EPA. The federal government is an intimidating force against ordinary citizens, and standing up to its bureaucracy requires extraordinary bravery. Thanks to the unwavering courage and selfless sacrifice of the Sacketts, Americans everywhere will be guaranteed the right to appeal a decision imposed by a government agency. Their victory also safeguards individual property rights against the encroachment of the federal government, a fundamental assurance of our Constitution. The EPA is one of the many federal government agencies whose overreach jeopardizes our civil liberties and obstructs our pursuit of prosperity.”
Question: Do you consider the EPA to be an overreaching, intimidating force against ordinary citizens?
A Priest Lake, Idaho, couple has prevailed in a property rights case involving the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The U.S. supreme Court today ruled in favor of Mike and Chantell Sackett, ruling they can go to court to challenge an EPA order that blocked construction of their new home and threatened fines of more than $30,000 a day. The Sackett’s property has sat undisturbed since the EPA ordered a halt in work in 2007. The agency said part of the property was a wetland that could not disturbed without a permit. In an opinion by Justice Antonin Scalia, the court rejected EPA’s argument that allowing property owners quick access to courts to contest orders like the one issued to the Sacketts would compromise the agency’s ability to deal with water pollution/SR & AP Wire. More here. (Kathy Plonka SR file photo: Chantell and MikeSackett talk about their battle with the Environmental Protection Agency over their right to build a home on a lot near Priest Lake)
Question: Do you support this decision?
As Bonner County Property Rights Council member Tom Cleveland explained, the whole idea behind drinking water protection in Bonner County was “with the blessing of the EPA” which he called a “Gestapo agency” and “out of control.” He followed with an ominous non-sequitur, warning that “people should start thinking about where their food is coming from.” And when his tirade was completed, the PRC unanimously* voted down the proposed watershed protection ordinance on Monday evening. Even setting aside Cleveland’s obscene Gestapo comment, and setting aside the fact that the EPA really has nothing to do with this proposed ordinance, logic and legal acumen was not exactly on display at the PRC Monday night/KEA Blog. More here.
Question: Do you envision the possibility of a Property Rights Council for Kootenai County someday?
Rep. Dick Harwood, R-St. Maries, (pictured) introduced legislation in the House Environmental Committee Wednesday that would repeal 10 pieces of legislation that he says allows the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to dictate laws in Idaho. The bill didn’t get out of committee, failing on a 9-5 vote. Harwood is vice chairman of the committee. Harwood’s plan was to have it sent to print but not go any further, thus putting it up on the Legislature’s website in hopes that other states could access it and begin a process of coming together to fight the EPA. Rep. Pete Nielsen, R-Mountain Home, proposed a motion to send the bill to print, citing the 10th Amendment and the commerce clause within it. This led to some harsh words from Rep. Eric Anderson,R-Priest Lake. Anderson felt that the bill was flawed and that it would reflect badly on the legislative body and him personally/Mitch Coffman, Idaho Reporter. More here.
Question: Who was right in this instance — Dick Harwood or Eric Anderson?
The House Environment, Energy & Technology Committee has voted to introduce Rep. Shannon McMillan's non-binding memorial calling for the EPA to pull out of the Silver Valley and halt its Superfund cleanup there within five years, with two “no” votes, one abstention and some concerns about whether the state can do what the resolution says. In addition to sending a message to Congress and the EPA, the memorial declares that the Idaho Legislature “vehemently opposes and rejects the ROD (Record of Decision) amendment proposed by the EPA, and hereby demands that our local, state and federal elected officials do all in their power in order to ensure that the EPA … end its presence in Shoshone County and rescind the Superfund designation within the next five years”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.
Question: Is there value in passing a nonbinding resolution, other than it makes its author and maybe other legislators feel as thought they're taking a stand on something?
Just when was it that the United Snakes of America declared war on the Coeur d'Alene Mining District, and why? … Was it just last year, when the US EPA sweated a $200 million settlement out of Hecla Mining Co. for alleged “environmental damages” for having the temerity to mine silver, lead and zinc in the Silver Valley? (That amount, ironically, is about what Hecla intends to spend extending the life of the Lucky Friday by some 30 years.) Or was it just last week, when the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration shuttered the Lucky Friday mine for up to a year on an utterly vacuous claim that is main vertical access way, the Silver Shaft, had miraculously become unsafe - overnight? This is the same MSHA that inspects the shaft every three months, most recently a month ago. What changed in 30 days to render the Silver Shaft unserviceable? According to MSHA, 30 years' accumulation of crud leaking from sand lines that have built up along the mile-deep, 18-foot cylindrical shaft's concrete liner/David Bond, Silverminers.com. More here.
Question: Do you think the USA has declared war on the Silver Valley mining district? Or is simply being safety conscious after a series of accidents in 2012?
A Priest Lake couple is headed for the U.S. Supreme Court over a land use dispute with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that should have never occurred, according to Members of the Idaho Congressional Delegation. Mike and Chantell Sackett were in Washington, D.C., today as part of a forum convened by Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) and attended by Idaho Senator Mike Crapo, Idaho Senator Jim Risch and Idaho Representative Raúl Labrador. “This is what happens when an over-zealous federal agency would rather force compliance than give any consideration to private property rights, individual rights, basic decency or common sense,” Crapo told the Sacketts. Crapo is a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW), with oversight of the EPA. He said when Congress wrote the Clean Water Act, it was never intended to authorize actions against citizens such as those that the EPA has engaged in against the Sacketts/U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, news release. More here. And: Pacific Legal Foundation take on the case here.
Question: Do you agree/disagree w/Idaho delegation re: this case involving a Priest Lake couple?
Item: River cleanup riles residents: EPA opts out of local meeting to discuss issue/Brian Walker, Press
More Info: Citizens have noticed what cleaning up the Spokane River — as the feds want — could mean to their sewer bills and growth. They think it stinks. Craig Wilcox, Todd Christensen and Len Crosby have started a grassroots effort called Citizens for Affordable Sewer Rates. The group, the Post Falls Chamber of Commerce and some local businesses had organized a meeting for Sept. 28 in Post Falls to discuss implications of a proposed river cleanup plan.
Question: What do you make of the EPA backing out of a meeting with local residents to discuss cost implications of new rules for discharge permits?
The comment is enough to raise eyebrows: During a recent August recess swing through Twin Falls, Sen. Jim Risch compared the federal Environmental Protection Agency to the Gestapo. The Twin Falls Times-News mentioned the comment in passing in an Aug. 19 article. But Risch says he can't recall making the remark — and says he's asked his staff whether he said it. “I'm not going to deny it,” Risch said in a telephone interview today. “They were taking notes. I wasn't.” The “they,” of course, would be editors at The Times-News. I've asked Times-News editor Josh Awtry for his side of this one, and will update this blog when I get word/Kevin Richert, Idaho Statesman. More here.
Richert goes on to ask: Is there any context where it would be apt or appropriate for a U.S. senator to draw such an analogy?
New state Rep. Shannon McMillan (pictured), R-Silverton, introduced her first bill last week, but it’s actually from her son, Wallace attorney James McMillan. She told the House State Affairs Committee, “I would like to yield my time to my son to explain this further,” to which Chairman Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, responded, “I think that would be appropriate.” It’s a nonbinding memorial to Congress demanding that the EPA be removed from Shoshone County, along with its Superfund designation, within five years. He said the EPA’s proposed multiyear cleanup plan “would have a devastating effect upon our mining industry.” James McMillan said human health concerns in the Bunker Hill cleanup already have been addressed. “Now they say that their focus is fish and wildlife,” he told the committee. “They keep changing the focus. … We need to tell them that this needs to stop”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.
Question: Do you think the EPA's work is done in the Silver Valley?
New Rep. Shannon McMillan, R-Silverton, introduced her first bill today, but it’s actually from her son, Wallace attorney James McMillan. She told the House State Affairs Committee, “I would like to yield my time to my son to explain this further,” to which chairman Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, responded, “I think that would be appropriate.” It’s a non-binding memorial to Congress demanding that the EPA be removed from Shoshone County, along with its Superfund designation, within five years. “I’m actually the ultimate author of this resolution and I am here on behalf of Rep. Shannon McMillan,” James McMillan told the committee. He said the EPA’s proposed multi-year cleanup plan “would have a devastating effect upon our mining industry”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.
Question: Do you think the EPA should get out of the Silver Valley?
Speaking of the EPA, Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson, newly named chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and the Environment, which oversees funding for the EPA, said of the agency: “The EPA is the scariest agency in the federal government, an agency run amok. Its bloated budget has allowed it to drastically expand its regulatory authority in a way that is hurting our economy and pushing an unwelcomed government further into the lives of Idahoans. As Chairman of this subcommittee, I look forward to bringing some common sense to the EPA and some certainty for our nation’s job creators”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.
Question: Should environmentalists fear that Simpson is running the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and the Environment?
To hear Idaho Gov. C. L. (Butch) Otter tell it, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should stop short of cleaning up a century’s worth of mining contamination in the Silver Valley. Apparently, the Superfund label and the cleanup efforts are hurting the valley’s image. “I have heard from legislators, local officials and the people of the Silver Valley, and I share their frustration and concern about the EPA’s overreaching and hugely expansive proposal for future cleanup efforts in the valley,” Otter wrote. The state’s four-member congressional delegation has since joined the chorus. But imagine if Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal followed that approach with the recent BP oil spill. Don’t bother extensively restoring the Gulf Coast. All that publicity is bad for the fishing and tourism industries. Just declare the oil all gone/Marty Trillhaase, Lewiston Tribune. More here.
Question: Are Butch Otter & Idaho’s congressional delegation right in resisting efforts by EPA to further clean up the Silver Valley’s mining waste?
Item: Coeur d’Alene Chamber of Commerce opposes EPA plan/Coeur d’Alene Press
More Info: “The Silver Valley has great potential for economic growth. The area’s existing mining and supporting services together with tourism, real estate, and other business sectors need to be viable today and into the future. The proposal does not guarantee future mining and the plan extends the “Superfund stigma”. This stigma already threatens the economic health and growth in the Silver Valley, and the greater Coeur d’Alene area. The proposal will undoubtedly threaten the area for decades to come” — Coeur d’Alene Chamber of Commerce.
Question: Where do you stand on EPA plans for the Silver Valley?
More Info: In a letter on Monday, Gov. Butch Otter criticized the EPA’s proposed Record of Decision amendment for the Upper Basin, and said a successful cleanup in the Silver Valley “is impossible without a healthy community and a strong local economy.” “In my view, the proposed ROD amendment must not go forward unless the EPA commits that cleanup work will not impede existing or future mining,” Otter wrote. “Moreover, the proposed ROD is not acceptable unless the EPA identifies and commits to reasonable and achievable endpoints.”
Question: Otter goes on to say that the EPA must “live within people’s means.” Should the EPA hold off far-reaching plans during these hard economic times?