Monday, April 12, 2010 2:04 pm | By Caitlin Blaney
Senator Mike Crapo (R – ID) wrote an editorial which appeared in Roll Call on April 12 admonishing the recent efforts to amend the Clean Water Act (CWA) of 1972. The Senator argues that the federal government is far overstepping its bounds with regard to regulatory measures, and that there is a better way to solve the problem. He recommends that instead of imposing more mandates which foster resentment, the federal government (EPA, Congress, etc) should build partnerships with state legislatures and private property advocates to protect both the environment and private property rights simultaneously.
The proposed amendments to the 1972 CWA (S.787) would give the federal government jurisdiction over virtually any body of water in America – from lakes to puddles – which it considers under a threat from pollution. Farmers and ranchers are most concerned about the amendment because it could have a direct effect on how they are allowed to tend their crops and livestock. Supporters of the amendment make the argument that current pollution laws are too lax, and thus it is the duty of the federal government to enforce the laws and dole out appropriate punishments.
The issue at hand is the massive expansion of federal authority which would come with the passing of this amendment. By simply striking the word “navigable” from the list of protected waters already in the CWA, the federal government is essentially given carte blanche to seize any lands they see as ineffectively protected. Additionally, such an amendment would stall infrastructure and development projects while federal permission is obtained. Perfectly viable property will sit by the wayside as federal bureaucrats in Washington decide the fate of land hundreds of miles away. And property owners will no longer have the authority to make individual decisions about their own land.
To prove the point, two Supreme Court cases (Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County v. United States Army Corps of Engineers in 2001 and Rapanos v. United States in 2006) have stated that the federal government has no business regulating certain areas environmental protection. In reality, the regulation of water should fall to the states. Pollution is not a practice condoned by any organization, but laws against pollution – which affect companies and entrepreneurs in individual states – should be a matter legislated and enforced by those individual states.
In the recent surge of federal legislation to expand government authority, the S.787 amendment to the Clean Water Act should not be the next step. Urge your Senators to vote NO to S.787, and NO to further government expansion.
States' Rights? Good. Private Property Rights? Even Better.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010 4:01 pm | By Caitlin Blaney
Never before in American history have the tensions between States and the federal government been so high. The recent healthcare battle has drawn attention to a massive government takeover of the privacy of citizens, but Utah Governor Gary Herbert has shined the bright light on another federal takeover: land rights. Recently, the federal government has been involved in a campaign to bring thousands of acres of land under federal jurisdiction, under the guise that they are “national monuments”. Advocacy groups are trying to spread the message that when the federal government seizes land, the resources and energy potential of that land are rendered useless since nobody can legally develop it. On March 29, Governor Herbert decided he had had enough.
The Governor signed a piece of legislation which would take the eminent domain laws and turn them against the Feds. In a basic sense, the state of Utah will seize the lands back from the federal government and make them property of the State – a task which will cost taxpayer dollars in legal fees. Opponents of the bill argue that the fight is unnecessary and cost-prohibitive. They also argue that the state doesn’t have a snowball’s chance; for decades, courts have always sided with the Feds on this issue. But advocates of states’ rights see it differently. Currently, nearly 60% of Utah land is owned by the federal government. That means 2/3 of Utah is off-limits to the citizens of Utah. The Governor claims that by bringing that land back under state control, it can be developed and used for private enterprise or energy sources, and thus generate more tax revenue to help fund Utah public schools.
And Utah isn’t the only state exercising its rights; Arizona, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico and Wyoming have all been encouraged by Utah state legislators to enact similar laws since federal land ownership is most prominent in Western America. While the Governor has the right idea, the execution is a bit flawed. The federal government has no right to grab land on a whim, but nor should that land be transferred to another government entity. Land rights belong to private citizens, where it can be utilized and developed to meet the needs of the market – particularly in the West, where natural resources and energy sources are abundant. Private land development means economic stimulation and jobs – and that’s something everyone can agree on.
To see just how much land the federal government owns in the American West, click here.
Internet to Remain Open and Free...For Now
Tuesday, April 6, 2010 2:41 pm | By Kelsey Zahourek
The Federal Communications Commission was dealt a deserved blow when the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit overruled the FCC’s decision to bar Comcast from blocking P2P file sharing applications, including BitTorrent. This ruling re-iterated what many opposed to net neutrality have argued for years—the Commission does not have the jurisdictional authority to regulate how web providers manage their networks.