With a new administration in Washington as well as a new director of the Environmental Protection Agency agricultural producers are hoping to be less of a target for overreaching regulations, but some believe anti-agriculture groups will simply change their tactics. Bryan Shaw is Chairman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
“There’s a lot of money to be made by controlling what environmentalism is and there’s a lot of money to be made by convincing people that the sky is falling and that everyone or whoever they choose to point at is responsible for it. There’s not as much money to be made by pointing out, hey, American agriculture is not only feeding and clothing the world, but we’re actually doing a pretty good job of taking care of the environment, and it’s really not that surprising to us, because we know that if we don’t take care of it that we’re basically mining it. And so you’ve got to use some common sense and make some decisions to protect it long term.”
Shaw says that his agency has tried to foster less of an adversarial relationship with the entities that they regulate.
“We’ve strived to have that kind of approach in Texas where we encourage and we facilitate and we work hand and hand with the folks that are partnering with us to take care of the natural resources that we have. And I’m hopeful that we may see some more common sense at the federal level and definitely there’s every indication that there’s a lot of intention to send responsibility back to the states on those issues that aren’t specifically delegated by the constitution and or the federal statutes that empower EPA and other agencies.”
Shaw believes that with the changes at the EPA, challenges to agriculture in the short term are going to be coming from a different direction.
“I think we’re going to see a lot more lawsuits. We’re going to see a lot more effort in the courts to try to force EPA to do things in a way that may not be to their liking and or may not be in a favorable view from an agriculture standpoint.”