American Elephants


The EPA’s Enormous Land Grab by The Elephant's Child

unofficial-stream-small-custom-e1339556645568The EPA  has just finalized one of the biggest land grabs in American history.

Just reprimanded by the Supreme Court, the EPA is anxious to try their luck again. Under the Clean Water Act, the EPA was  granted the authority to regulate the navigable waters of the United States to see that they remained clean.

Under the Clean Water Rule, all  “tributaries” will be regulated by the federal government. Broadly defined, which they intend, this means  anything moist that eventually flows into something that can be defined as a “navigable river,” including the roadside ditch above, and even smaller trickles.

Under the same rule, the word “adjacent” is stretched from the Supreme Court’s definition of actually “abutting” what most Americans regard as a real water of the United States to anything “neighboring,” “contiguous,” or “bordering” a real water, terms which are again stretched to include whole floodplains and riparian areas. Floodplains are typically based on a 100-year flood, but a separate regulation would stretch that to a 500-year flood.

And, finally, under the rule, the EPA cynically throws in a catch-all “significant nexus” test meant as a shout out to Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s opinion in Rapanos v. United States when, in fact, the EPA’s rule makes a mockery of Kennedy’s opinion and of no fewer than three Supreme Court rulings.

Under the three approaches, no land or “water” is beyond the reach of the federal government, never mind the traditional understanding of private property or state and local control of land use.

Farmers, ranchers, dairymen and everyone in rural America are in panic mode. Not only does this rule allow the EPA onto their land, but it throws wide open to environmental group-led citizen lawsuits that promise to go far beyond what the EPA envisioned. Citizen lawsuits are controlled only by the rule. The rule carries with it fines to the tune of $37,500 a day. The EPA has a habit of imposing fines big enough to scare the accused  of whatever violation into immediate compliance.

I grew up very rural, and I’m sure city people cannot imagine the havoc this rule could cause. Although here in the Seattle area, a good portion of our lawns could be considered wetlands for a portion of the year. It rains a lot, and there is runoff. Farmers and ranchers spend a significant amount of time ditching, or controlling the flow of water where it is not wanted.

The goal of the Environmental Protection Agency has little to do with the environment, but only to do with how environmental regulation can be used to further their political goals of control, ending private property, and bringing on the utopia where everyone is, at last, truly equal. Well, except for those in charge, of course.




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