As Rep. Mike Simpson is preparing to rein in what he and other Republicans consider the excesses of the Environmental Protection Agency, he may soon run into another former Idaho legislator.
Simpson is expected to chair the Interior and Environment subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, which oversees budgeting for the EPA, the Forest Service and Interior Department.
He recently criticized EPA's stepped up campaign to curtail dust from livestock and grain milling, the “bloated” plan for cleanup of the Silver Valley, and its interest in the methane released by cattle.
Karl Brooks is the EPA Region 7 administrator, in charge of the agency’s programs for Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri. The Boise native was an attorney for Boise Cascade before he was elected to the Idaho Senate for three terms in the 1980s and 1990s.
Later, he worked as a lobbyist for the Idaho Conservation League. His book, “Public Power, Private Dams, The Hells Canyon Controversy,” is the definitive history of how Idaho Power became so powerful in the state.
He wrote it after he had embarked on his second career as a history professor at the University of Kansas. That took him back east and into the job he now holds.
Brooks personifies the ambitious agenda of the Obama Administration's EPA. Under Brooks, the EPA has begun to crack down on Iowa feedlots that are polluting waterways and threatening drinking water supplies.
“In some instances, we are finding harmful bacteria such as E.coli in wastewater discharged by feedlots at levels that are exponentially higher than the levels at which EPA permits municipal wastewater treatment systems to discharge their treated wastewater,” Brooks said after four feedlot were cited earlier this year. “This is just one measure of the harm that can come when feedlots fail to operate within the law.”
Expect Simpson and Brooks to cross paths sometime in the next year. Their shared time in the Idaho Legislature at least gives them a starting point that might lead to a reasonable dialogue.