Clean Water Hoax

Sen. Barbara Boxer and company are going to bring the Clean Water Restoration Act (CWRA) up for full committee mark-up and vote in their Thursday 18 June business session scheduled for 9:30 a.m. in the EPW Hearing Room, 406 Dirksen. This is Sen Russ Feingold’s S.787 which was introduced on April 2.

With the Democrats having nationalized the financial, banking and automobile industries–bringing a strong layer of socialism to the key portions of the US economy, they are now moving to nationalize the American land and water. Under the Clean Water Act (CWA) the Federal government only had the authority to regulate “navigable waters” and control the discharge of pollutants and dredge and fill activities within those navigable waters.

The so-called Clean Water Restoration Act restores nothing. That is a hoax. Instead it removes the restrictive and limiting terms “navigable” waters and unconstitutionally extends the Federal regulatory authority over ALL waters of the United States. This includes the driest desert areas that may only hold water for a few weeks a year during summer monsoon rains. And it includes completely isolated prairie potholes (small ponds and marshes) with no connection whatsoever to any other waters.

Furthermore, the bill will now prohibit ALL activities affecting all waters of the United States. This means that anything a landowner, a business, a county roads department, a waterfowl conservation program undertakes that could conceivably affect anything that is wet–will be subject to the discretionary jurisdiction of Army Corps or EPA bureaucrats. They will then be able to make the lives of family farmers, ranchers, tree farmers, home builders–almost anyone and everyone–literally impossible. They will have the total power to force every farmer or rancher or ordinary business owner to run a gauntlet of permits, red tape, delays–that will delay projects long enough and cost so much as to essentially shut down or bankrupt even the most necessary and innocuous projects.

There are copious examples of wetlands horror stories over the last 20 years where people have been imprisoned and fined staggering amounts for simply building their own home, cleaning up dumps, or creating habitat for waterfowl. And that occurred under the existing CWA restrictions of “navigable waters” and prohibitions only on discharging pollutants and dredge and fill activities. Once those constraints limiting regulations to “navigable waters” are removed by the CWRA, life will quickly become an even worse bureaucratic nightmare with no exit–particularly so throughout all of rural America. This bill would be much more honestly named The Rural Cleansing Act of 2009.

Before attempting to unconstitutionally extend their reach to include such things as a rancher’s isolated pond in northern Montana, one would think that those concerned with clean water and fishable water would first want to continue work on cleaning up the major navigable waters in the county like, perhaps, the polluted Potomac and Anacostia Rivers that flow past both sides of the U.S. Capitol. Indeed if the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee had kept their attention on the goal and if the Federal bureaucrats had not spent so much money and time over the past two decades trying to regulate lands and waters they had no constitutional authority over–maybe we would have far cleaner and healthier waters today.

For more information see here.

Photo by Micah Laaker from Flickr creative commons.