It is with alarm that thinking people are very concerned about the latest legislation proposed in Congress to expand the authority of the EPA to regulate and control another vital area of our economy and private lives. The EPA from its inception has had the power unfortunately to control and regulate the “navigable waters” of the US. That phrase has a long and well established history in the law under the Commerce clause of the Constitution. The interpretation is sadly over broad in the first instance. It has historically meant that the waters had to be large enough to support shipping.
The Courts over the years have further refined that definition to mean waters that can be modified to support shipping. Thus a pretty small creek already was subject to Federal regulation. The large rivers and lakes throughout the US have long be also subject to the control and regulation of the US Corps of Engineers. Over the last three decades though the Corps has become in many instances nothing more than a branch office for the EPA. The Corp mostly only regulates for safety issues such as dams, levees and the like. It is the EPA that gets to swing the big stick of control by enforcing its rule to protect the water if any activity or agents are deemed to have a material “impact” on the quality of the water. Of course the EPA gets to determine what is an “impact” and what will affect quality. No one argues against have clean and safe water for our personal use or our industrial use. The rub comes when the EPA is setting regulations to support some much large social or policy agenda and uses its powers to further those aims which are well beyond its original precept. Such as a green agenda or a climate change agenda. That is well beyond assuring safe, clean water.
The new legislation being proposed will drop the word “navigable” from the law. So that the EPA has jurisdiction over all the “waters” of the US. Under the already existing laws the EPA was allowed to regulate and control not just the navigable waters but all the drainage areas and basins that affected the river or lake. That is already a huge slice of America. Now with the broader definition they can expand exponentially their powers to regulate. Every drainage ditch, creek that you literally could step over and all those private ponds and livestock tanks in the US will be subject to EPA regs. You might just roll your eyes and say well, it won’t have any effect on me in Milwaukee or Kansas City. You better think again. Those private livestock tanks number in the hundreds of thousands. Likewise there are countless little creeks and rills running throughout the country that ultimately feed into one of the larger rivers. Cattlemen have dug out and created Lord only knows how many thousands of these things. It might not be much of an issue on the Upper West Side of Manhattan but it is everywhere else, especially west of the Mississippi.
Can you imagine the cost to ranchers of cattle, sheep, goats and horses and any other livestock if they have to control the drainage into and out of those tanks? They use chemicals on their ranches, the livestock create their own mess by heeding the call of nature where the mood strikes them including when they are standing on the bank of the water tank. They will be able to dictate what you can do with your yard and garden area if you have a little rill running behind your house that is three feet wide but your land drains into it. They might decide those composts plots for your tomatoes are a danger to everyone downstream. You think that is an exaggeration? Who would have thought the Feds would issue rules to protect a 1 inch fish that no one cares about that jeopardize the livelihood of thousands of farmers in central California? Never underestimate the thirst for power and control of a Federal bureaucrat or Federal judge supporting them.
The EPA will be able to control any discharge of any chemical, including natural chemical like compost matter over virtually the entire US. Just look at a map or take a drive out West and look at all those water tanks. They will be able to control all drainage issues to and from those creeks and tanks. You likely will have to get a permit to dam up a small creek on your own property even if it is miles from any “public” water source. Your livestock might die waiting for the approval process to be completed. But, hey, we’ll stimulate the economy because of all those thousands of extra Federal employees that will be needed to make up rules and enforce them. Between the new EPA hires and those at the IRS to enforce the health care mandates we will be able to tax, spend and regulate our way out of the recession. The Feds aren’t just a menace but are menacing. It is a long way from Cody, Wyoming to Washington but we are told those folks who’ve never been west of the Appalachia chain know best about everything and they are only doing it for our own good. Gee, I have more faith in the public myself, I think they can usually get what is best for them without outside help.
“There is no nonsense so arrant that is cannot be made the creed of the vast majority by adequate governmental action. B. Russel http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com