I got an Email today from 1st District Rep. Tim Huelskamp
letting me know that that the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to “Stop
the War on Coal” on Friday before recessing until after the election in
As far as I know, there is no looming deadline for stopping
the war on coal. In fact, if part of the legislation is, as Huelskamp’s email
indicated, prohibiting coal ash from being declared a hazardous waste material,
it can probably wait a long, long time. Coal ash, which contains every toxin
filtered out by the bag house of a power plant, IS a hazardous waste material and
has been handled as such for decades.
It’s a very useful hazardous waste material, and properly
handled -- as it already is -- in roadbeds and foundations, extremely valuable.
Let’s get real. Everybody on the farm is familiar with hazardous materials. Haven’t construction workers and farmers
known for years that some of the products they use are dangerous if not
properly handled? Good grief, what’s next, a demand from Congress to prohibit
ammonium nitrate from being labeled explosive? Or a demand to take all the
handling labels off pesticides?
But that is beside the point.
he point is there IS
a looming deadline on important farm legislation. On Sept. 30, the Farm Bill
expires. And Huelskamp and his colleagues went home without even a passing
reference to the piece of legislation that is essential to providing a
framework of decision making for every farmer in America.
Farm groups from across America were in Washington last
week, standing shoulder to shoulder with folks they seldom agree with, all
sounding a united voice for passing a Farm Bill. The Farm Bureau, National Farmers
Union and National Grange stood hand in hand on stage, in total agreement that
we need this bill passed. The northern states, southern states, eastern states,
western states – the commodity growers, the specialty crops, the dairy industry
and the beef industry – all stood hand in hand to ask for one thing: Pass a
Their plea fell on deaf ears. The big battle is over
budget cuts and what should bear the brunt – programs that benefit farmers or
programs that provide food to school kids, senior citizens and poor people. Nobody
pointed out that if farmers disappear, there isn’t any food to fight over at
any price, let alone food to give away. Nobody mentioned that the Senate had
already carved a path through the thorny thicket and really, folks, all you
have to do is walk behind your leaders.
That also is beside the point.
My point is that we elect Congressmen to do a JOB, not to
uphold a political position. You get a salary because you are supposed to be
WORKING. I know the climate is tough and there’s a lot of pressure from a lot
of directions. That’s why you get paid so well and have such generous benefits.
At the end of the day, doing your job is the minimum expected of you. And, sorry Congress, you fail.