Mean Enviros Won't Let Tenn. State Rep. Throw Pig Carcasses All Over The Place, Except They Did
Let's just call this story "Son Of Exploding Foamy Pig Doots," shall we? Except there's no exploding, and the foaming is mostly just a froth of pure pigshit coming from Tennessee state Rep. Andy Holt, who is quite certain that no sir his hog farm did NOT get any special treatment from regulators, even though he operated for years without a permit, left hog carcasses lying around unburied, and pumped half a million gallons of hogshit into a creek near his farm.
In fact, Holt regularly complains on the floor of the Tennessee House, where he's vice chair of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, that heavy-handed regulation and big government are simply ruining the American Small Farmer and making it impossible for honest folks to make a living.
Ben Hall of Nashville's Channel 5 does a damn fine bit of investigative reporting on the paper trail showing that after an inspector found serious violations of environmental laws on Holt's hog farm, an unidentified higher-up at the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) told the inspector to ignore it. If all local teevee news did reporting of this caliber, we'd actually start watching local news again:
There's just so much that's wonderfully horrifying about this story, beyond the obvious hypocrisy of a guy who complains about the heavy hand of Big Government Regulation and then gets away with spraying pig shit all over the neighbors' trees, pumping so much pigshit into a creek that it flowed black for a full mile, and casually explaining that if the news helicopter took footage of an unburied hog carcass surrounded by buzzards, then the buzzards must have dug it up somehow.
F'rinstance, how can anyone not love that Rep. Holt's farm is located in "Weakly County"? That's right up there in the Aptly Ironic Place Names index with the recent train explosion near Mount Carbon, West Virginia (across the river from Boomer, of course).
Holt is just beautiful in the interview, with Ben Hall playing the role of classic Mike Wallace back when 60 Minutes was good. On the half million gallons of hogshit that overflowed from a waste lagoon into the creek, Hall asks, "Do you think that's a problem?"
Holt, with a completely straight face: "Sure, that's not something that we do on a regular basis by any means." Right. Only when there's an extra half-million gallons of pigshit. It's not like he went out of his way to do that, it just kind of happened. And again, Holt isn't especially worried that the reporter found those documents with a neighbor complaining that he had sprayed liquefied hogshit onto trees on her property:
"I assume from that report there was some manure that got in the trees," Holt said. "But it was not in a neighbor's tree in their front yard by any means."
NewsChannel 5 Investigates noted, "But the neighbor was upset."
"I assume," Holt responded.
That's some Party of Personal Responsibility you got there, buddy. No wonder you feel so oppressed when the big bad government won't let you spew pigshit all over. Oh, wait, actually, it did let you do exactly that!
When an inspector reported the overflowing pigshit and the rotting hog carcasses strewn in a pit in 2011, he added to his report, "Several serious violations noted, but an EAR (Enforcement Action Review) was discouraged by upper management."
Make your own joke here about powerful legislative leaders making silk purses out of a (dead, rotting) sow's EAR.
Holt wasn't especially concerned about the violations going unreported, apparently at the request of TDEC management: ""I can honestly say that is not something that has ever been brought to my attention." Precisely as it was meant to be. Don't bother the vice chair, OK? He's a very busy man.
Similarly, the commissioner for the Department of Environment and Conservation, Robert Martineau, was quite certain that Holt never got any special treatment, although he was at a loss to explain who possibly could have told the inspector to back off: "I don't know who put that there," he said. The department later told Hall that the inspector who wrote the report had retired and that, by golly, they have no earthly idea what he could have meant about someone discouraging him or who that "upper manager" was. Like so many things, it'll just have to remain a mystery.
And so will the fact that even by the time of that inspection, Holt had been operating his hog farm for two years without a permit. The state did at least ask him to submit proper paperwork a couple of times after that, and so he resubmitted the very same incomplete paperwork again in 2012 and 2013. He insists that he was "trying to make a good faith effort." You know, with the paperwork. It may have been incomplete, but he sent it in, now didn't he?
Apparently, even these half-assed attempts to comply with the heavy burden of unenforced regulations was too much for Holt, who says he got out of the hog-farming business at the end of 2014: "There's no hogs on site. We haven't been producing hogs since sometime in 2014," he explained. Which means that a pending federal EPA investigation of his operation is totally unnecessary and just another example of Big Government going after honest folk trying to make a living. And sure, maybe the TV station helicopter got some footage a month into 2015, of another pretty fresh-looking hog carcass right out in the open, surrounded by buzzards, but that doesn't mean anything at all, since there were very definitely no hogs on the farm after the end of 2014:
Holt explained that the buzzards must have dug up the carcass, which means that, considering it's fully exposed and the earth around it seems undisturbed, we need to be worried less about lying cheating state legislators than about the astonishing earthmoving technology that buzzards have developed right under our noses. Which we are holding.
So there you go -- just another example of how oppressive government regulation is terrible for business. Except for the part where Andy Holt got to run an unlicensed hog farm for years without a bit of regulation. If anything, nervous nelly environmentalists should see this as a success story of the free market -- even with no regulation at all, Mr. Hall was extremely responsible, and was only caught pumping tons of hogshit into a creek just the one time that we know of, and was observed violating regulations requiring dead animals to be buried only twice. He's got a bright career ahead of him in Republican politics -- someday, he may even be known as King Pigshit.
[NewsChannel 5 via tip from LZ]
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.