Government Land-Grab Extends to Your Backyard

In what is quickly becoming the governmental status quo, twenty-two Democrat Senators and their two Independent counterparts are attempting to bring more private rights under the control of the federal government. This time, the target is private property under the guise of S. 787: The Clean Water Restoration Act Amendment, introduced by Senator Russ Feingold (D – WI).

The original Clean Water Act was passed in 1972, during the wave of environmental consciousness that also established the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The 1972 bill stated, “It is the national goal that the discharge of pollutants into the navigable waters be eliminated”. However, Democrats have taken this common sense legislation and are now trying to wring more government control by twisting the language. The amendment, introduced in 2009, would strike the word “navigable” from the original bill entirely, casting the broad net of the US government over the “waters of the United States”. Under those terms, the government could claim control over any body of water and the land on which it rests – from intermittent streams down to the smallest puddle – threatened by alleged acts of pollution.

The Obama Administration has expressed its support for this new legislation, to which Sen. Feingold responded “Every day Congress fails to reaffirm Clean Water Act protections, more and more waters are stripped of their protections, jeopardizing wildlife habitats, recreational pursuits, agricultural and industrial uses, and the drinking water of millions of Americans.”

This new piece of legislation most concerns Midwestern farmers and ranchers, who fear the new regulations, permit requirements, and other prohibitions on their private land that would come with the passing of the Feingold amendment. Additionally, the amendment would remove State authority over its own rivers and streams, requiring federal permission for any major construction or otherwise environmentally-altering projects.

The most recent action on the bill was taken on June 18, 2009 in the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.