WV Farm Bureau Magazine November 2014 - Page 5

Something to Think About Don Michael, WVFB Director of Governmental Affairs Trick or Treat – This month’s article was written a day before Halloween, that festive time of year for youngsters of all ages who attend costume parties, carve pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns, visit haunted house attractions, and go trickor-treating. As I reflect on three topics – Tank Program, Waters of the United States, and the 2015 Legislative Session – consider the relevance of the words “trick” and “treat” per a few of the definitions offered by The Free Dictionary – trick (an act or procedure intended to achieve an end by deceptive or fraudulent means; a stupid, disgraceful or childish act or performance) and treat (a source of delight or pleasure). The Aboveground Storage Tank (AST) Program continues to evolve, and with it many unanswered questions and potential unintended consequences. Three Farm Bureau members were involved in a recent stakeholders’ meeting hosted by DEP in Charleston. The meeting focused on how the rule would work and our participants returned home with more questions than answers. DEP has filed its final version of the AST Interpretive Rule, which can be accessed from the agency’s home page at www.dep.wv.gov. As reported last month, the Aboveground Storage Tank page provides a rough draft of the emergency rule. You can also find contact information for DEP employees who can help with the registration process and answer questions about the program. Per current guidelines, anyone having aboveground tanks that hold at least 1320 gallons of liquid, are 90 percent or more aboveground, and are at a fixed location for at least 60 days are subject to regulation. While this program is not intended as a “trick,” it is far from a “treat.” Many feel most farming operations, particularly those outside of a critical concern/water intake area, should have been exempted from the rule or at the very least had a 5000 gallon tank exemption. Rumors still abound about a possible Special Session to address the AST issue. The comment period on the “Waters of the United States” issue was extended until November 14. With the deadline passed all eyes are on the future to see if sanity prevails. Since last issue we learned our Attorney General Patrick Morrisey led 10 other state attorneys general and six governors in filing official comments challenging how the U.S Army Corps of Engineers and Environmental Protection Agency plan to change the definition of “Waters of the United States.” The 14page letter signed by attorneys general from Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia, as well as the governors of Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina and South Carolina concludes, “The proposed rule unlawfully and unconstitutionally seeks to assert federal jurisdiction over local water and land use management, while making it impossible for farmers, developers and homeowners to know when they may carry on their activities without obtaining an extremely expensive federal permit.” In closing they also urge EPA and the Corps to meet with State officials throughout the country to gain a better understanding of the careful measures these officials are taking to protect the land and water in their respective states. Farm Bureau appreciates the efforts of our Attorney General and other state leaders who have come forward to assist with this “tricky” situation. It is truly a “treat” to have such leaders supporting our cause. The 2015 West Virginia Legislative Session is around the corner complete with the usual suspense and fireworks. Lawmakers will be faced with tough decisions given budget issues driving the session. Many discussions hint of possible tax increases. Legislation dealing with private property rights is again anticipated. Stay tuned for regular legislative updates (FB Website – www.wvfarm.org, Legislative Action Report,WV Farm Bureau News, etc.) as we unite our efforts to ensure positive results “Under the Dome.” Let us hope that reasonable legislation prevails so our final scorecard on the 2015 Legislature will reflect more “treats” than “tricks.” I leave you with my favorite signage of the week: PRAYER – The World’s Greatest Wireless Connection! Until next time, here’s wishing you and your loved ones God’s very best for Thanksgiving and the CHRISTmas Season ahead – KEEP SMILING FRIENDS. West Virginia Farm Bureau News 5