Keeping Environmental Bureaucrats out of Your Tackle Box
By Sen. John Thune
I’ve been a vocal opponent of the Obama Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) over-intrusion into the American people’s lives. Perhaps the most egregious example came in the form of the agency’s Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule that turns nearly every body of water – no matter how large or small – into Washington’s jurisdiction. Imagine a farmer or rancher in South Dakota with a small ditch or creek that runs through his or her farmland or a small puddle that’s created by a summer storm. Under WOTUS, that farmer or rancher might need the EPA’s permission to complete certain day-to-day tasks or build necessary structures like pole barns or fences.
As crazy as that sounds, if the liberal wing of the president’s party and EPA bureaucrats had their way, they’d even regulate the tackle South Dakotans use to reel in walleyes from the Missouri River and ban the lead ammunition they use to bag ringnecks in the prairie. These Washington environmental bureaucrats are already reaching into South Dakotans’ backyards through WOTUS, which we’re fighting hard to rein in, and there’s absolutely no reason why they should reach into their tackle boxes and hunting vests as well.
I’ve fought for years to block potential bans that could have a big impact on outdoor recreation in our state and around the country. Alternative kinds of tackle can cost as much as 20 times more than traditional tackle, which is a huge expense for everyone from the recreational angler to the most seasoned sportsman. We should be doing all we can to encourage more young people to participate in outdoor activities like hunting and fishing, not price them out of these sports or provide a disincentive to join.
I fully support sensible regulation that protects the outdoors for future generations, but some of the things the EPA has suggested just go too far. Thankfully, last year Congress passed and the president signed legislation that included my provision to permanently block the EPA from an outright ban on lead ammunition used in the field. That’s a good first step, but solves only half of the problem. I’m glad my provision that would extend this regulatory prohibition to fishing tackle recently cleared an important hurdle in the Senate and is one step closer to enactment. I’ll be working hard this year to make sure we get this common-sense proposal to the president’s desk.
While it might be an uphill fight, taking on the EPA one out-of-touch regulation at a time is worth it. The concrete jungle that is Washington, D.C., and the bureaucrats that inhabit it need a little South Dakota straight talk from time to time, which will help reinforce the message that we don’t need the EPA pushing into every facet of our lives.