Property Rights Slowly Eroding…One Drip at a Time

Whoever said, “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me,” never met Congressman James Oberstar (D-Minn). His bill, “America’s Commitment to Clean Water Act (H.R. 5088),” would remove the word “navigable” from the Clean Water Act’s definition. By removing this one word, the federal government’s regulatory authority over private property would increase exponentially.

The implications of this bill on individual property rights are frightening. By removing the word “navigable,” the government could regulate every body of water in the U.S. from small ponds to irrigation canals. Bureaucrats could impose onerous new restrictions and permit requirements that would hamper economic growth, especially for small businesses.

Owners of desert property would be the only ones truly safe from this bill, except for the fact that the government already owns most of the deserts in America.

Rep. Oberstar claims that his bill "would restore, not expand, the geographic scope of Clean Water Act." He even has Lisa Jackson, the EPA Administrator, bolster his point. As Americans for Tax Reform has noted, the EPA has no credibility when it comes to regulatory restraint. They have continually overstepped their bounds and have attempted to subvert individual property many times. The EPA would administer the law if H.R. 5088 gets passed.

While the government may not necessarily regulate every body of water if H.R. 5088 makes it out of committee, the fact is, it leaves the door wide open for future regulatory abuses. Why give the government more power than it already has?

To see PRA’s letter condemning H.R. 5088, click here.