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Hannibal Courier - Post - Hannibal, MO
  • BPW takes advantage of Blunt’s visit

  • The Hannibal Board of Public Works played host Wednesday to U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt. Among those happy to have a few minutes of uninterrupted conversation with a federal lawmaker was Bob Stevenson, general manager of the BPW.
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  • The Hannibal Board of Public Works played host Wednesday to U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt. Among those happy to have a few minutes of uninterrupted conversation with a federal lawmaker was Bob Stevenson, general manager of the BPW.
    “We’re glad he came,” he said. “They picked us (to visit). He’s spending the week going around the state talking to people like us about EPA issues and gathering ideas about what could be done. We were pretty honored that they thought of us and came here.”
    Stevenson spoke to the senator about the permitting cycle of the city’s Waste Water Treatment Plant, where Stevenson led Blunt on a short tour.
    “This plant operates on a five-year permit cycle and we have to go get a 20-year loan to meet a five-year permit. You don’t buy a new car that way. We’re trying to raise the argument that we should get a 20-year permit. That means we could operate this plant for 20 years knowing we wouldn’t have to change anything in it,” said Stevenson.
    What sort of response did the senator give?
    “I believe him to be agreeable and receptive to everything we say when we complain about EPA regulations for water and for air,” said Stevenson.
    Also happy to see the senator in town was City Manager Jeff LaGarce.
    “He’s obviously very concerned about federal agencies literally making the rules up as they go along. We’re very concerned about that,” he said. “We’re making millions of dollars in (waste water) plant improvements, not because any underlying law has changed, but because federal EPA regulators have changed their mind about what they think is acceptable. You’ve essentially got law being made by man rather than government and it’s kind of frustrating. Hopefully Congress can do something to put a stop to these agency intrusions into people’s every day lives.”
    LaGarce cited as an example of governmental intrusion the re-defining of the Clean Water Act as it applies to waterways.
    “There’s a rule published right now that would give the federal government authority over drainage ditches and these can be in anybody’s backyard. I can’t imagine trying to come out and mow the grass if you have to get a federal permit first. It just doesn’t make sense. We’ve actually reached the world of the absurd,” he said.
    In addition to being absurd, some federal regulations can be costly to municipalities.
    “From a city’s standpoint some of these intrusions have become very, very expensive for us to carry out,” said LaGarce. “When things become too expensive in a city they either have to drop services or have to raise tax rates, and obviously we don’t want to do either of those things. I’d rather see Congress start to fight off some of these regulations and how some of these agencies put together regulations without any congressional oversight.”
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