Iowa Public Television

 

Army corp under scrutiny; diesel fuel and cattle grazing rules change

posted on May 19, 2000


HEAVY RAINS IN THE CORNBELT DID LITTLE TO DAMPEN MARKET CONVICTION THAT A DROUGHT IS STILL A POSSIBILITY. AT WEEK'S END A WEATHER PREMIUM REMAINED IN FUTURES PRICES. LONG RANGE FORECASTS STILL CALL FOR HIGHER TEMPERATURES AND LESS PRECIPITATION INTO THE GROWING SEASON.

BEYOND THE FARM GATE A HOST OF DEVELOPMENTS THIS WEEK PROMISE TO ALTER THE CONDUCT OF THE RURAL AMERICAN ECONOMY. IN THE WEST A SUPREME COURT DECISION IS SEEN AS A SETBACK FOR THE LIVESTOCK INDUSTRY. ON THE FARM NEW EPA RULES WILL INDEED "FUEL" CHANGE, BY LITERALLY CHANGING FUEL. AND ON THE RIVER THE ISSUE IS AN ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEER STUDY THAT CONCLUDED THERE IS NEED TO SHORE UP THE MISSISSIPPI AND ILLINOIS RIVER SYSTEM TO SUSTAIN BARGE TRAFFIC.

THE HIGHLY CONTROVERSIAL $56-MILLION STUDY WAS CALLED INTO QUESTION IN FEBRUARY. AN ARMY CORPS ECONOMIST CHARGED DATA WERE ALTERED TO SHOW A NEED FOR ONE-BILLION DOLLARS WORTH OF IMPROVEMENTS TO THE 60-YEAR OLD LOCK AND DAM SYSTEM.

THIS WEEK, "THE NORTHEAST-MIDWEST INSTITUTE", A NON-PROFIT ENVIRONMENTAL AND ECONOMIC RESEARCH GROUP, RELEASED ITS STUDY WHICH FAULTED THE CORPS METHOD OF ANALYSIS.

THE RESULTS COUNTER ANOTHER RECENTLY RELEASED INDEPENDENT REPORT WHICH INDICATED THE EXPANSION WAS NECESSARY.

FOR ITS PART, THE CORPS CLAIMS THE STUDY WAS CHANGED BECAUSE OF NEW DATA AND NOT MISCONDUCT. IF APPROVED, THE EXPANSION WOULD BE CARRIED OUT OVER A 50-YEAR PERIOD.

IN A MOVE THAT WILL EFFECT EVERYONE FROM OVER THE ROAD TRUCKS TO FARM TRACTORS, THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY WILL REQUIRE THE SULFUR CONTENT IN DIESEL FUEL TO BE REDUCED BY 97% BY 2006.

ENGINE MAKERS WILL ALSO HAVE TO CLEAN UP THEIR ACT AND COMPLY WITH THE NEW RULE BY 2010.

THE ACTION IS EXPECTED TO INCREASE THE PRICE OF A GALLON OF DIESEL FUEL BY THREE TO FOUR CENTS.

AND MUCH TO THE DISMAY OF MANY WESTERN RANCHERS AND FARMERS, THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES UNANIMOUSLY UPHELD CHANGES MADE BY THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR TO THE 66-YEAR OLD WESTERN GRAZING RULES

AMONG THE CHANGES MADE IN 1995, WERE

-AN INCREASE IN THE DEPARTMENT'S CONTROL OVER THE AMOUNT AND TYPE OF GRAZING,

- TRANSFERENCE OF TITLE TO IMPROVEMENTS MADE BY RANCHERS ON PUBLIC LANDS TO THE GOVERNMENT,

-AND THE REMOVAL OF THE REQUIREMENT THAT PERMIT HOLDERS BE IN THE LIVESTOCK BUSINESS LEAVING OPEN THE POTENTIAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS BIDDING ON GRAZING LAND TO THE PURPOSE OF DRIVING CATTLE OFF PUBLIC LANDS.

RANCHERS AREN'T THE ONLY ONE BEING CHALLENGED BY LITIGATION. IN A MOVE THAT WILL INCREASE PRESSURE TO REMOVE FOUR DAMS ON THE SNAKE RIVER, ENVIRONMENTALISTS ARE SEEKING AN INJUNCTION THAT COULD SHUT DOWN FARMING ON THOUSANDS OF ACRES IN IDAHO, WASHINGTON AND OREGON.

THE ENVIRONMENTALISTS ARGUE THE BUREAU OF RECLAMATION HAS BEEN ILLEGALLY DIVERTING SNAKE AND COLUMBIA RIVER WATER TO FARMERS FOR IRRIGATION. THE WATER INSTEAD THEY SAY SHOULD BE USED TO HELP THREATENED AND ENDANGERED SALMON. BREACHING THE DAMS ON THE SNAKE WOULD INCREASE STREAM FLOWS, AND MAKE IT EASIER FOR FISH TO MAKE THE TRAVERSE UPSTREAM TO SPAWN. IT WOULD ALSO TURN THE SPIGOT OFF TO AT LEAST 35 THOUSAND ACRES OF FARMLAND.

Tags: agriculture animals army cattle diseases engineers food safety livestock news