Un­sung hero of ru­ral Amer­ica

Fred Kelly Grant in­structs lo­cal of­fi­cials how to beat en­vi­ron­men­tal nan­nies

The Washington Times Daily - - OPINION - By Kathy Hoek­stra Kathy Hoek­stra is the na­tional reg­u­la­tory re­porter for Watch­dog.org.

While Pres­i­dent Trump and Congress tackle fed­eral reg­u­la­tions and the agen­cies that pro­mul­gate them, Fred Kelly Grant is qui­etly do­ing the same — and suc­ceed­ing — with the most pow­er­ful weapon you’ve likely never heard of. It’s called “co­or­di­na­tion” — tucked into the Na­tional En­vi­ron­men­tal Pol­icy Act by Congress in 1976, the pro­vi­sion re­quires fed­eral agen­cies to co­or­di­nate with lo­cal of­fi­cials be­fore im­ple­ment­ing new rules, so the in­ten­tions and ex­pec­ta­tions are con­sis­tent at ev­ery level of gov­ern­ment. “Lo­cal pol­icy and lo­cal plans are what drive the econ­omy,” Mr. Grant said. “Un­der the co­or­di­na­tion law, the agency doesn’t just come to the ta­ble and talk and walk away. They have to try to reach con­sis­tency with lo­cal gov­ern­ment. That’s the key to it and that’s why it works, and ev­ery other process doesn’t.”

Not even Mr. Trump can make a dif­fer­ence with­out lo­cal help, ac­cord­ing to Mr. Grant.

“Any­body that thinks the pres­i­dent of the United States drives the econ­omy is liv­ing in an Alice in Won­der­land world. He doesn’t. He can set the tone, but noth­ing changes from the top. It all has to change from the bot­tom,” Mr. Grant said. “And that’s where lo­cal gov­ern­ment, with co­or­di­na­tion, could get the agen­cies to the ta­ble with them and be­gin to make change.”

Mr. Grant, a long­time at­tor­ney who lives in Idaho, dis­cov­ered the rule in the early 1990s dur­ing the Clin­ton ad­min­is­tra­tion’s “Cat­tle Free by ’93” cam­paign to re­duce graz­ing on fed­eral lands. A rancher friend asked him for help in fend­ing off the Bureau of Land Man­age­ment’s (BLM) ef­forts to cut such graz­ing by 45 per­cent in south­west Idaho’s Owyhee County.

Con­sid­er­ing around 76 per­cent of the county’s 5 mil­lion acres are fed­er­ally owned and ranch­ing is the pri­mary eco­nomic pro­ducer, the move would have put more than 100 of the county’s 140 ranch­ers out of busi­ness.

“I said to my friend, ‘If the fed­eral gov­ern­ment wants you off their land, you’re go­ing to be put off. There’s noth­ing I can do.’ ”

Mr. Grant heard about co­or­di­na­tion at a con­fer­ence on prop­erty rights, and looked it up.

“I didn’t know about it. I worked for two gov­er­nors and I had never come across it,” Mr. Grant re­called. “As I read it, I thought, ‘This can’t be. Congress didn’t leave this loop­hole.’ And the more I read, the more I re­al­ized it was not a loop­hole. It was in­tended and had been used suc­cess­fully by coun­ties four times in the past.”

The BLM had never co­or­di­nated with county of­fi­cials as re­quired by fed­eral law. So Mr. Grant told the ranch­ers that with the statute, he could hold the feds at bay for two years — long enough for the BLM to find another way to get cat­tle off fed­eral land.

Mr. Grant was wrong.

“The ranch­ers are still there, they’re still rais­ing live­stock, they’re still all in busi­ness and we beat the BLM,” he said. “We got rid of six dif­fer­ent dis­trict man­agers be­cause they broke the law. We got rid of two state di­rec­tors be­cause they broke the law, and to­day man­agers of the BLM drive 140 miles round trip once a month to sit down and meet with three county com­mis­sion­ers of Owyhee County, Idaho.“

Since then, Mr. Grant has used co­or­di­na­tion to beat back not only the BLM, but the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency, the U.S. For­est Ser­vice, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice, the De­part­ments of In­te­rior, Agri­cul­ture and Home­land Se­cu­rity, and the Army Corps of En­gi­neers.

He has also worked with the Amer­i­cans Stew­ards of Lib­erty, which trains lo­cal gov­ern­ments in the co­or­di­na­tion process, helped per­suade the Amer­i­can Leg­isla­tive Ex­change Coun­cil to adopt a model co­or­di­na­tion or­di­nance for lo­cal gov­ern­ments, and launched the Stand up and Fight Club, which aims to re­store and pro­tect the rights of ru­ral Amer­i­cans.

Now, he’s tak­ing on the Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion.

With Mr. Grant’s help, the vil­lage of Hart­land, Wis., is us­ing the co­or­di­na­tion statute to fight the Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion’s (FDA) 2016 to­bacco rule that deems liq­uid nico­tine prod­ucts such as e-cig­a­rettes as to­bacco prod­ucts. The rule in­cludes an ex­pen­sive pre­mar­ket ap­proval process, which the va­p­ing and e-cig­a­rette in­dus­try says will wipe out 99 per­cent of the na­tion’s busi­nesses.

Given that one of the town’s big­gest eco­nomic driv­ers is a va­p­ing shop, the vil­lage adopted a res­o­lu­tion call­ing for co­or­di­na­tion with the FDA on the de­vel­op­ment and im­ple­men­ta­tion of the rule.

At 83, Mr. Grant has no plans to slow down.

“Not as long as I can stand and walk and talk. I’m tempted all the time to re­tire,” he said. “But I truly be­lieve in this na­tion and I think there are too few peo­ple who un­der­stand and be­lieve in the core prin­ci­ple of the fed­eral re­pub­lic, and if we lose that, I be­lieve we lose what makes the Con­sti­tu­tion the most per­fect in­stru­ment of gov­ern­ment that’s ever been cre­ated.”

By us­ing the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s statute to fight its own agen­cies to pro­tect pri­vate prop­erty and en­ter­prise, Fred Kelly Grant is an un­sung hero.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.