I support cleaning up the nutrient overload in western Lake Erie. The cleanup requires restrictions on manure and chemical fertilizers running off farm fields in the Maumee River watershed, the largest part of which is in Ohio.
The governor of Ohio, his administrators in Ohio’s environmental, agriculture and natural resources departments and their colleagues in the Farm Bureau oppose such restrictions. Tougher pollution controls will cut into the profits of big corporate farm interests which are Farm Bureau’s benefactors and major political campaign contributors.
A long time lobbyist for the Farm Bureau, now Gov. Kasich’s spokesman on the Lake Erie impairment issue, has been telling people in Toledo and elsewhere that the Clean Water Act does not apply to agriculture, so the financial burden of any USEPA enforcement would fall on municipal sewage treatment plants. Both elements of that statement are blatant falsehoods. The Farm Bureau lost that argument in the Chesapeake Bay federal lawsuit, as the governor and his spokesman know very well.
Confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) are unregulated or under-regulated manure factories. The operators spray millions upon millions of gallons of animal waste on farm fields in the Maumee watershed. The manure spread on fields far exceeds what is necessary as fertilizer for plant growth. The excess runs off into the Maumee and its tributaries, then into Lake Erie, fueling algal blooms.
In my view, we should determine whether Farm Bureau lobbying has morphed into ‘regulatory capture’ (see Wikipedia definition), and regulatory capture into RICO fraud. Examine it yourself. If the elements are there, the U.S. Department of Justice should act.