A dust up with Heather Wilson
Let’s talk about dust today. Appropriate subject, given this season of reduced visibility as the wind picks up loose levels of groundcover in Silver City and drops them on Clovis. That is fortunate in that much of Clovis is blown into Texas. Large parts of Farmington are deposited in Española, which has enough dirt of its own, thank you.
Spring is not New Mexico’s banner season, but it has its economic advantages. Car washes do well. Pharmacies unload tons of allergy pills.
It is a stretch, perhaps, but I will make the argument the concurrent political primary season blows dust to obscure visibility of the real issues. That is both figuratively and literally true.
My example is Heather Wilson. Heather is the presumptive candidate to face whomever the Democrats choose for the Senate seat now held by Jeff Bingaman. Let me be clear. Mrs. Wilson is pleasant, obviously bright, knows the issues. She might make a fine U.S. Senator. That is not my point.
My point is dust. During a whirlwind, get-acquainted visit to our community, Heather preached to a choir of 30. A writer in attendance took the position refusal of both Democrats and Republicans to compromise, to find common ground, is doing serious damage to our country.
Mrs. Wilson agreed, yes, this is a problem, adding, however, the media tends to concentrate on areas of dispute while ignoring areas of cooperation. No one refuted the point, and I won’t here. Because my topic is dust.
Heather Wilson is pretty sure she will win the primary in June and face Congressman Martin Heinrich who she assumes will be the Democratic nominee. That being the case, she did not waste the opportunity at this local meeting to blow some dust on Heinrich.
“Just last week,” she said, “Martin Heinrich voted on a bill to control dust on rural roads and farms!” Heather wondered, derisively, just how much does this guy know about rural New Mexico? From the reaction of moans and shaking heads, you could tell the Heather crowd did not think Heinrich knows very much at all about rural New Mexico.
Actually, HR. 1633, which sponsoring Republicans call the “Farm Dust Regulation Act,” aims to create a new broadly-defined category of particle pollution, calling it “nuisance dust.” In other words, it is much more complex than mere “farm dust” and Wilson knew that when she smirked the barb.
It would exempt from the Clean Air Act particle pollution from such activities as open-pit mines, gravel mines, smelters, and coal-processing facilities, said Whitney Potter, a Heinrich press secretary.
Potter writes: “H.R. 1633 would prevent the EPA from regulating dust generated from farming activities… The only problem is that this EPA regulation doesn’t exist and the EPA Administrator has promised that such a regulation will not be considered. Simply put, this bill is a solution in search of a problem.”
“Promised” is a shaky word, of course. Ticket a promise from a bureaucrat linked to one from a politician, and you’ll get squat at the daily double window.
Nonetheless, Wilson took the low road in dealing with a fairly complex issue. I single out Heather Wilson only as an example. With few exceptions, politicians have come to rely on a snide and derisive attitude toward those with whom they disagree. “My way or the highway” is the mantra of those who look only to appease their Tea Party backers on the right, or the environmentalist fringe on the left.
The ugly wind generated by the combatants for the Republican presidential nomination is but a precursor to major nastiness that will ensue once Mitt Romney’s Super Pacs gear up to do battle with President Obama’s Super Pacs. By late September we are all going to want to move to Canada.
Is all of this animosity inevitable? Certainly the Clean Air Act can be intelligently debated. It can be argued as necessary to protect health, or, conversely, cited as an unreasonable burden on commerce. But why must we continue blowing dust?
(Ned Cantwell – email@example.com – wrote this in a bum mood while waiting to get his allergy shot.)