Speaking to Commerce Lexington Monday, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul vented his spleen on excessive government regulations, giving as an example an Environmental Protection Agency rule treating milk spills on dairy farms the same as oil spills in large bodies of water because milk contains a type of oil.
As it turns out, though, the newest member of Kentucky's congressional delegation was engaging in a bit of crying "Wolf!" over spilled milk.
Yes, such a rule was — emphasis on was — on the books, dating back to the implementation of the Oil Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure regulation in the 1970s.
Whether it was ever applied to a dairy farm is another question altogether. According to its Web site, the EPA suspended SPCC compliance requirements for milk and milk products several times since the rule went into effect.
And more than two years ago, in January 2009, the EPA proposed a permanent SPCC exemption for milk and milk products, in the process once again suspending the rule's enforcement in that regard while the mandatory process for approval of the exemption ran its course.
On April 12, six days before Paul's Commerce Lexington speech, the exemption for milk and milk products went into effect. The announcement on the agency's Web site attributed the change to the Obama administration's efforts to eliminate unnecessary regulatory burdens.
To Paul's credit, he didn't get the call on this milk spill regulation as far off the mark as one of his fellow Republican congressional freshmen. In a newsletter earlier this year, U.S. Rep. H. Morgan Griffith of Virginia described the inclusion of milk and milk products in the SPCC rule as something new.
When a bit of truth squadding by the Richmond Times-Dispatch found evidence to the contrary, the paper contacted Griffith's office to find out how he got it so wrong.
The congressman's press secretary cited a Jan. 27 editorial in The Wall Street Journal, which said the EPA had finalized the decision to subject milk and milk products to SPCC regulation just two weeks earlier (when the EPA was in the process of doing just the opposite) and chided President Barack Obama for not living up to his pledge to "purge regulations that are 'just plain dumb.'"
Oh, well, what can you say about the mainstream media?
Paul was on firmer ground when he complained to Commerce Lexington about farms being subjected to something known as the "fugitive dust rule." A bit of Googling turned up examples of this happening, although we're not sure that's a bad thing.