Michael A. Cox

The WOTUS Rule 2015 is dead.

Interment will take place in February 2020.

There most likely will not be many RIP condolences offered, except from the handful of radical environmentalists, who really believe that every mud puddle and drainage slough is a navigable waterway.

The Waters of the United States Rule 2015 was an addendum to the Clean Water Act (CWA) which dates back to per-Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) times of 1948. The EPA expanded and updated CWA in 1972. Rule 2015 was churned into the regulatory gruel by the EPA under the Obama administration. Even during its run up to inclusion in the EPA’s arsenal of land grabbing weapons, it was already recognized as an egregious overreach. The basic problem was the broad interpretation of what a “water of the US” was.

The rule gave activist regulators the power they lusted after. Farmers, ranchers, and other landholders were given a moving target when it came to compliance and the preservation of clean navigable waters.

According to the Farm Bureau Federation, “The 2015 rule provides none of the clarity and certainty it promised. Instead, it creates confusion and risk by giving the agencies almost unlimited authority to regulate, at their discretion, any low spot where rainwater collects, including common farm ditches, ephemeral drainages, agricultural ponds and isolated wetlands found in and near farms and ranches across the nation, no matter how small or seemingly unconnected they may be to true ‘navigable waters.’”

Anyone who has been in the high country and seen standing water in the spring and none in the fall knows that such a water is not a WOTUS candidate. But to regulators who consistently look for ways to, for instance, change the rules on grazing allotments, it would be a way to shut down grazing in an allotment on the idea that the temporary storm water is somehow a tributary of some far off navigable river.

Pushback was instantaneous when the EPA began its coup against landowners in 2014. By the time the rule was published in 2015, the cacophony of negative noise in response rose a hundred decibels above a Mötley Crüe concert. The courts were jammed with restraining order petitions. The General Accounting Office found the EPA had violated the law with its WOTUS work.

The beheading of Rule 2015 was a campaign promise of President Trump. Now, it dies a death of a thousand cuts by judges who saw through the chicanery, blunting the EPA’s efforts to do things congress never intended with the monster it unleashed in 1970. Trump put it out of its miserable existence with an executive order in February 2017. It took three years, almost to the day, for the EPA to finally close the coffin.

No tofu shortage

The Sino-American trade bout cooled a bit this week when the Chinese put in an order for $67 million worth of soybeans from the US, and pulled the most recent tariffs on soybeans and pork although there are still nasty previous markups by the Chinese on those products. Some observers, however, consider this as a blink by the Asians in the so-called trade war.

The Chinese order was for 204,000 metric tons of beans. Traders are saying that other orders are being booked.

President Trump was encouraged by the buy, but sees it as a small piece of a larger matter. “Well, that’s something people talk about. I’d rather get the whole deal done. A lot of people are talking about it and I see a lot of analysts saying an interim deal, meaning we’ll do pieces of it, the easy ones first. But there’s no easy or hard. There’s a deal, or there’s not a deal. But it’s something we would consider, I guess,” Trump said.

Pickens’ outfit for sale

If you’re looking to get into the ranching business, there is a little place in Texas that is available. It’s T. Boone Pickens’ Mesa Vista Ranch near Pampa, and it’s all yours for $250 million. For that you get it as it sits, 65,000 acres, golf course, airport with 25,000-foot hanger, a furnished 25,000-square-foot house, a lot of cows, and other stuff.

Pickens died last Wednesday at 91. The ranch actually went on the market two years ago. Pickens said selling the outfit was the prudent thing to do as an 89-year-old man. There have been some lookers but no deals yet.

The Pickens property is just one of many “luxury ranches” that are on the market, especially in Texas, Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah. It seems that there were lots of Baby Boomers who had a fantasy about owning a ranch and bought one. The upshot is that now their offspring would rather not inherit such a thing and those properties are for sale. You might call it a glut.

There are many other smaller, more affordable, Boomer dreams on the market, several on the Western Slope.

Michael A. Cox is a Montrose-based content provider. He may be reached at mcox@burrocreekpictures.com

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