Different standards for ruling authority – March 2011

–Our founding fathers put protections in the Constitution to avoid duality

Barring unforeseen circumstances, the legislative session will be in the bag the first week of March. 

The body had a number of issues that were of concern and some of those items dealt with the things coming out of Washington, D.C.  One of the latest efforts out of D.C., while not surprising, is disconcerting to those of us in the West.  The release of Secretary Salazar’s secretarial order on Wild Lands has led to a lot of discussion about similarities of actions towards the end of the Clinton administration.  Part of that concern is because of the announcement by an administration official which indicated that they would be willing to listen to concerns regarding this program, but it wouldn’t change the outcome.

The other disturbing aspect is the secrecy that surrounded the development of the Wild Lands project.  We were aware of efforts by Rep. Bishop from Utah, through FOIA requests, to obtain information on this topic.  The good representative was eventually provided documents which were illustrative, but clearly had many withheld documents.  After the limited information was provided to Rep. Bishop, there were immediate statements from the Administration which claimed there was nothing to the documents, since they were only “brain storming” sessions.

Some of us in agriculture have been accused of being paranoid when it comes to the federal government, but after seeing some of the more recent actions coming out of D.C., they probably were underestimating the back room deals being worked on in our nation’s Capitol.

While Interior is working on items in the West, EPA and the Army Corp of Engineers are working to expand their authority, beyond Supreme Court rulings, to regulate under the 404 permitting process of the Clean Water Act.  In a confidential draft, EPA acknowledges the proposed effort moves beyond those limits placed on the Agency by the Supreme Court rulings and the law.

So far we have not seen any articles in the news media about the EPA’s efforts to ignore the Supreme Court on this issue.  Should a rancher ignore the Endangered Species Act or some other federal law, government officials would more than likely descend on the person’s ranch with warrants and hand cuffs.  The duality of how those governed are treated versus those in government is disturbing.

One of the reasons our founding fathers put protections into our constitution was because the ruling authority from England routinely held the citizens to a different standard than those who were the rulers.  It seems like their concerns are just as valid today as they were some 200 plus years ago.

By Ken Hamilton, Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation Executive Vice President

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