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Serving: IN

Opinion on the Environmental Protection Agency Runs Both Ways

Opinion on the Environmental Protection Agency Runs Both Ways
One arm of EPA regulates, while other provides cost-share help.

Sen. Joe Donnelley wanted farmers to know when he visited Indiana recently that he was keeping an eye on the Environmental Protection Agency and the appointment process for a new head of the agency. He said he had personally talked to the nominee and made it clear that farmers were over regulated and that this should stop.

Better watershed: The water in this watershed in southeastern Indiana is cleaner when it enters streams because a 319 grant from EPA helped farmers get conservation on the land, notes Duane Drockelman, who still volunteers in wrapping up the project.

Some farmers do feel like EPA is looking over their shoulder, especially if they have large livestock units that qualify as confined animal feeding units. Some also think EPA gets heavy-handed when requiring fuel stored on the farm above certain quantities to be diked. The rule requiring it has been implemented, but due to a funding cut approved by the continuing resolution earlier this year, the EPA will not have the funds to enforce the rule until fall or later.

The requirement to store fuel to prevent spills is nothing new, Fred Whitford notes. He is coordinator of Purdue University Pesticide Programs. For more information about fuel volume storage requirements and the SPCC rule, read the op-ed from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 7 Administrator, Karl Brooks: Clarifying Aspects Of EPA's SPCC Rule.

On the flip side, one farmer who believes heavily in conservation says EPA deserves thanks for providing 319 money for various projects. A vast majority of the Indiana watershed projects from South Laughery Creek in Ripley County, started with seed money from EPA. The money is administered through the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, but the money comes from EPA as federal dollars.

A lot of it is used for planning in the beginning. Often, the group reapplies for a second three-year period. When that's granted, typically a large portion of the money is used for cost-share within the watershed to get conservation practices on the ground.

EPA money is harder to come by through these grants as federal purse strings get tighter, but there are still several grants to watersheds that are being completed in Indiana thanks to money that ultimately comes from EPA.

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