Filed under: Bureaucracy, Domestic Policy, Junk Science, Law, Media Bias, Politics, The United States | Tags: EPA & USACE, EPA Power Grab, The Clean Water Act
We have complained about Congress’ inclination to pass a broad law and turn the clarifying, defining and rulemaking functions over to a federal agency. That’s not quite fair, except in the case of the Clean Water Act (CWA).
The Clean Water Act regulates the discharge of pollution into navigable waters. Rather than limit the definition of “navigable waters” to mean waters that are interstate and navigable in fact—the Clean Water Act broadens the definition of “navigable waters” so as to include non-navigable waters in order to give federal regulators a greater degree of environmental oversight. It was passed in 1972, with some specific exclusions, and has been a fairly steady source of litigation ever since.
In 2006, in Rapanos v. United States, four left-leaning justices ruled that there are no limits on federal jurisdiction. Four right-leaning justices ruled that federal jurisdiction is limited to “relatively permanent, standing, or continuously flowing bodies of water forming geographic features.” One justice (Kennedy) wrote that a water or wetland constitutes “navigable waters” under the Act if it possesses a “significant nexus” to waters that are navigable in fact or that could reasonably be so made. You see the problem.
In May of this year, the EPA and the USACE (the Army Corps of Engineers) interpreted the Rapanos decision in the broadest fashion they could and promulgated the “Waters of the United States” rule, supposedly to clarify federal jurisdiction.
- The EPA colluded with environmental special interests at the Sierra Club to manipulate the public comment period, in possible violation of federal anti-lobbying laws, as reported by The New York Times.
- Also, the EPA ignored state input during the public comment period, in blatant contravention of the principles of cooperative federalism established by the Clean Water Act.
It’s all based on the term “significant nexus,” and ephemeral streams were added to federal jurisdiction, so all the feds have to do is claim jurisdiction—ant the argument can be made that everything is connected. Including ponds, ditches and puddles.
U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson of North Dakota issued a temporary injunction against the rule, which gives the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers authority to protect some streams, tributaries and wetlands under the Clean Water Act. The rule was scheduled to take effect Friday.
“The risk of irreparable harm to the states is both imminent and likely,” Erickson said in blocking the rule from taking effect.
Thirteen states led by North Dakota were involved in the lawsuit: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, South Dakota and Wyoming.
August 28, Headline, Fox News: “EPA says clean water rule in effect despite court ruling” (Heather MacDonald: “lawlessness breeds lawlessness”) Apparently— never mind the federal court, we’re going to do what want! The EPA says the rule will safeguard drinking water for millions of Americans. Well, of course you have noticed the millions of Americans dropping dead from drinking puddle water and ditch water. The American Farm Bureau has declared war. Lawsuits to block the regulation are pending across the country, Congress has moved to thwart it, The White House has threatened to veto. Opposition, however comes from both parties, businesses and most states.
The EPA has become known as an out-of-control rogue agency, and is probably the most hated agency in the government— though that designation may be up for grabs. When the head of the executive branch makes law on his own, ignores laws at his pleasure, and in general ignores his sacred oath, the agencies under his direction do the same. “Lawlessness breeds lawlessness.”
In the wake of the Gold King Mine spill of 3 or more million gallons of toxic mine tailings into the Animus River, turning the river a nasty mustard color, the EPA is undoubtedly anxious to get news about their agency out of the nation’s consciousness.Bad timing. Now that the toxic waters have progressed to Lake Powell and past, the media has quietly dropped the daily pictures—just as they are about to reach Grand Canyon National Park. There is a limit to the amount of bad news an agency can cope with.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Economy, Energy, Junk Science, Law, Progressivism, Regulation | Tags: American Industry Revolt, EPA Power Grab, Unworkable Climate Plan
American industry has a message for the Environmental Protection Agency: your new plan for climate regulation is “not workable.”
The Partnership for a Better Energy Future, which represents 140 organizations, sent a letter to EPA chief Gina McCarthy Monday night calling on her to extend the public comment period for the new rules, make drastic changes to the proposal and hold more public hearings across the U.S.
“We are all going to tell the EPA that this regulation is simply not workable,” Jay Timmons, CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), said on a call with reporters Tuesday to promote the industry push against the rules.
The EPA said it will hold four public hearings across the country on its proposal which mandates that by 2030 states cut carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants by 30 percent from 2005 levels.
Not enough! according to Timmons, the CEOs of the Chamber of Commerce, American Petroleum Institute, the National Mining Association, American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers and more groups as well.
“There is obviously going to be legal action in the future,” Timmons said. “We would like to see the rule altered and see the agency stop and listen to constituents and consumers that will be most impacted.”
“But assuming all things stay as they are, then we’ll see some action in the courts,” he added.
“Already, we have received nearly 300,000 comments on the proposal. In the first 25 business days following the proposal, we have met with 60 groups and we are continuing our outreach through the 120-day comment period,” Purchia said.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Environment, Junk Science, Law, Politics, The United States | Tags: "Connectivity", America's Navigable Waters, EPA Power Grab
Congress passed the Clean Air Act in 1970, and the Clean Water Act in 1972. Who is going to vote against clean air or clean water? The problems arose, as so many problems have, in the Congressional habit of writing broad bills and leaving the details to the concerned agency to develop. In this case the newly formed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) went to work to sort out the particulars, which they have, with a vengeance.
In the 1970s there were problems. Los Angeles was more frequently blanketed with a thick yellow-brown smog than with the few stray days when you could see mountains in the distance. The Cuyahoga River caught on fire. In some places sewers emptied into rivers or lakes. People hadn’t given much thought to the environment as such, for Mother Nature seemed to be taking care of it pretty well. But then Paul Ehrlich wrote The Population Bomb, insisting that mass starvation was just around the Malthusian corner, and Rachel Carson came up with Silent Spring, terrifying everyone of DDT and all pesticides, unfortunately for the millions of children in Africa dying of Malaria.
Zealots are always looking for a place where they can indulge their zealotry, and they seem to have flocked to the EPA. The Agency has something over 17,360 full-time employees (as of 2011), and unsurprisingly during the recent government shutdown, most of them were regarded as non-essential. Tasked to make the air clean and the water clean, they have opted for purity instead, with no understanding that purity is impossible and not desirable anyway.
In the interest of clean air, the agency tried valiantly to regulate farm dust, which no one at the agency seemed to recognize as improbable, as dust is part of the nature of farming. Farms are places with dirt roads, plowed and tilled fields, which is how farming is done.
The Clean Water Act charged the agency with keeping the navigable waters of the United States clean. What Congress probably had in mind was shutting down any sewers emptying improperly and keeping the boats from dumping oil and stopping the Cuyahoga River from catching fire. In many places the water naturally contains some methane. Not harmful to people, but it can catch fire. There was the big arsenic flap where some springs were found to contain arsenic in what were presumed to be dangerous quantities. The EPA made a nationwide regulation determining how every municipality would be required to treat their water to remove any trace of arsenic. Many communities had no arsenic in their water, but the agency demanded expensive water treatment anyway. In the case of safety for humans, many things that are poisonous in large quantities are perfectly safe in small quantities. The rule is always “the dose makes the poison.”
If you have been incensed over low-flow shower heads, blame the EPA for trying to “save” water. If you have been irritated with “high-efficiency” toilets that have to be flushed twice, enormously expensive “high-efficiency” washers and dryers that seem not to get clothes clean, blame the EPA. If you have obediently purchased “Energy Star” appliances only to find that they aren’t saving energy, welcome to the club.
Back in May, 2011, I wrote a post about the “EPA Using Clean Water Act To Seize More Power,” and chose a picture of a small mountain stream to illustrate the EPA’s stretch of the term “navigable waters” to grab more authority. In June of 2012, I wrote another post about their attempt to re-define “navigable waters” to include snow-melt and the run-off after a rainstorm, pictured in the roadside gutter above. The term “Navigable” means that boats can go there. In 2006 a U.S. Supreme Court case from Michigan produced five different opinions and no clear definition of which waterways were covered and which were not. This left the government with a clean slate to write its own interpretation — everything they wanted to regulate.
Now they have done it. The EPA has packed a government advisory board with federal grant recipients so they can regulate virtually every acre in the United States, probably including your back yard, should you annoy them.
The EPA’s proposed rule — the “Water Body Connectivity Report” removes that limiting word “navigable” from “navigable waters of the United States” and replaces it with “connectivity of streams and wetlands to downstream waters” as the test for Clean Water Act regulatory authority. Whoa! Change a few words to add a meaningless science buzzword to grab for power— “connectivity.” They cannot quantify the significance of the runoff from your driveway, or the puddles on the lawn, but if they get away with this, if you annoy the administration, they may come after you for destroying wetlands. Everybody’s yard here becomes a wetland in the winter — this is Seattle.
Anybody remember the Supreme Court case Sackett v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency? A couple in Priest Lake, Idaho bought a small piece of land to build their dream home with a view of the lake, when the EPA descended on them, declaring the lot a “wetland.” The Supreme Court slapped down the EPA, but Zealots are not restrained by mere court rulings. They have been slapped down repeatedly by courts all over the country and it hasn’t slowed them down at all. They tell themselves that they are protecting the health of the people, but they blithely make up statistics to prove that they are doing so. Every rule will be accompanied with numbers deaths from various causes that have been prevented by their rulings.
Fortunately two powerful members of Congress have noticed and demanded in a news release to know why “EPA skirts the Law to Expand Regulatory Authority.” The Chairman of the House Science , Space, and Technology Committee, Lamar Smith of Texas, and Rep Chris Stewart of Utah, chairman of the environment subcommittee have written to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. They accuse the EPA of “pushing through a rule with vast economic and regulatory implications before the agency’s Science Advisory Board has had an opportunity to review the underlying science.”
The EPA says its rule-making will be based on the final version of the Science Advisory Board’s (SAB) scientific assessment. The SAB is paid to verify whether the EPA report is technically accurate. The law requires that the SAB must be free of conflicts of interest, unbiased, and transparent. “Transparent” is not doing too well in this administration. The SAB does not do science. They just review a review. The EPA Office of Research and Development has conducted a scientific literature search, picking useful studies for review by the SAB.
The board is stacked with those who are recipients of EPA grants, government agencies and academia. No industry-friendly scientists were allowed by McCarthy to be on the board, although there were plenty of candidates from important industries. No hard-headed state or local water officials were included, despite nominees from Arizona, Missouri, North Carolina, Wyoming and New York City.
The EPA tries not to leave things to chance. Zealots are not easily restrained.