Some may be using the August recess from Congress to play gold, but Luke Messer is taking advantage of it to visit constituents and agricultural meetings. Recently, Messer, a Republican representing the sixth district, visited a meeting sponsored by Indiana Farm Bureau held at the farm of David and Mary Miers, Greensburg.
The meeting was about the proposed rule issued by the Environmental Protection Agency which would redefine "waters of the U.S." It dates back to the Clean Water Act in the 1970s. The proposed rule could give EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers far more power, because it would extend the type of lands that fall under waters of the U.S., putting them under their federal jurisdiction. Some of those waters might turn out to be land on your farm that you have no idea how someone could contend was a water of the U.S. under this rule.
"Many of our regulators have become detached from reality," Messer says. He is seeking re-election this year. "Regulatory agencies are acting like a fourth branch of government, and they're increasing their power all the time."
Why doesn't Congress intercede? "We could pass laws that would clarify what is considered a water of the U.S and what isn't in the House of Representatives," he observes. "But currently it's unlikely that it would make much difference. This administration has set the tone that it enforces rules it likes and ignores rules it doesn't like. "
Leadership matters, Messer continues. Right now leadership is lacking in this issue.
Justin Schneider, an attorney with Indiana Farm Bureau, Inc. who has spent eight years working primarily on water-related issues, most tied to regulatory questions, says it's important to kill this proposed rule if at all possible because dealing with state regulation is one thing, but dealing with deferral regulators is another. It could make it very difficult for farmers to continue to carry out practices they have in the past if federal authorities claim control over a much larger portion of territory through this rule.