The Gospel at Delano: WDN columnist forks through the MPCA parables of Tom Emmer


Back when I was taking graduate extension coursework in theology at Sewanee, I learned that parables are short tales that illustrate universal truths. The Winona Daily News’ Jerome Christenson might be in possession of a similar understanding. He relates three parables Tom Emmer used to slam the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

Christenson reflects on the meaning of the tales in Emmer misses the point on rant against MPCA:

Drainage tiles are installed to drain excess water from farmland, water that eventually ends up in our brooks, streams and rivers. The MPCA has good reason to be kept aware of the condition of the drainage system as part of its charge to protect the waterways from contaminated runoff. Some folks might believe they were doing what they were hired to do.

As for the 5,000-head feedlot … believe me, it wasn’t the head they were concerned with, but the output of the orifice at the other end. I’ve spent enough time at the sweaty end of a pitchfork and scoop shovel to have a direct appreciation of the volume and nature of what 5,000 head can produce. I really don’t want that in my drinking water or my favorite fishing hole. I wonder if Tom considered as a possibility that the location, drainage or waste disposal plans for this feedlot weren’t up to snuff? And if they weren’t, would he want his house and his well downwind and downstream?

And as for the eaves troughs – if the rainwater was running through a manure pile then draining into a sinkhole, well, as a species of obligate water-drinkers, we’ve all been well served.

Tom says he wants government to get out of people’s way. Like it or not, if it is to direct, to control, to maintain, government has to get in the way on occasion and have the resources to do it effectively.

Meanwhile, let’s not be mistaking the thieves and the do-nothings for the Good Samaritans.

To be blunt: shit in the water supply is a bad thing. Keeping shit out of the water–and most water in Minnesota is rightly consider “public waters,” those rivers, streams and lakes that belong to us all–is a legitimate concern for government. 

I wonder if the 5,000 head (or animal unit, since there is a difference) hog farm  that Tom Emmer was ranting about in Winona and at Farmfest is similar to this one in Pope County that took years to permit? Perhaps readers should read a representative court-ordered EIS and see what the issues might be. In hot Augusts like this one,  a little regulations–along with good animal husbandry might make a difference.