Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and the Democrat majority in the Legislature want to make sure that no one in the state, least of all farmers and ranchers, receive any benefits from regulatory relief from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
That’s bad for farmers and ranchers, and it’s bad for Oregon.
Part of Donald Trump’s election campaign focused on regulatory reform. As far as agriculture is concerned, he’s followed through.
The administration has proposed new clean water rules that are less ambiguous and less sweeping than the infamous “Waters of the U.S.” rules proposed in the waning days of the Obama administration. Under Trump, the EPA has taken the position that outcomes are more important than punitive enforcement actions.
There will always be honest differences on environmental policy. It seems, though, that the impact of each rule should be taken on its own merits.
But Democrats in Oregon have taken a more simplistic approach: Obama rules good, Trump rules bad.
Under House Bill 2250, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and the Oregon Health Authority would have to regularly check whether federal regulations have been rendered “significantly less protective” since the end of the Obama administration.
The DEQ and OHA would then have to recommend or take actions to ensure that Oregon’s environmental standards are at least as protective as federal standards before the Trump administration took office.
Proponents of the legislation argue it’s necessary because the Trump administration has sought to undermine the purpose of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Rep. Werner Reschke, R-Klamath Falls, isn’t buying it.
He says the bill won’t accomplish much of substance, but it will open the state government to litigation from environmental groups and others who disagree with its assessments of changes to federal policy.
“In effect, the bill by default assumes new environmental rules are and will be worse than what previously existed and uses a date to set the bar,” Reschke said. “I find this kind of policy making under the guise of protecting Oregon’s environment to be more political science than science.”
HB 2250 assumes that any regulations passed prior to Jan. 20, 2016, are, without question, infallible. It’s a position that probably plays well to the base, but doesn’t serve the interests of Oregonians.