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Congress Plays Scrooge With Our Land and Water

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Just in time for the holidays, Washington has gift wrapped a lump of coal for the rest of the country.

In what has become an annual ritual, Congress unveiled this week a massive spending bill to keep the government going, which includes provisions that would cut hundreds of millions of dollars from vital programs that protect our land and water.

But keeping the nation’s water clean and soil healthy should never be on the naughty list.

The proposed cuts would slash more than $140 million from two popular and effective conservation programs – the Environmental Quality Incentive Program and the Conservation Stewardship Program. This could increase already significant backlogs in processing applications from conservation-minded farmers just as we close out a year that showcased the devastating impact of poor agriculture practices.

One of the biggest stories of 2014 was the green, slimy water on the shores of Toledo, which left hundreds of thousands of Ohioans without water

What caused the green sludge there? Poor agriculture practices.

And the bad news doesn’t end in Toledo.

The Chesapeake Bay has long been a victim of pollution from agricultural runoff, and last summer was no exception.

And the Gulf of Mexico’s Dead Zone – an area the size of Connecticut – was in full bloom this summer, thanks to fertilizer runoff from farms in the Mississippi River watershed.

We’ve all heard the definition of insanity – doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result.

Continually cutting critical programs that protect land and water, and being shocked by the polluted water that results fits that definition nicely.

If we truly want clean water, healthy land and all the benefits they bring, Congress has to protect the programs that deliver on those goals.

CC photo courtesy of: Flickr, user Matthias Weinberger