Feds Overstep Their Bounds in Clean Water Restoration Act

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.