American Elephants


A Power Grab Over Troubled Waters. by The Elephant's Child

Imagine this:  Representative James Oberstar (D-Mich.) wants to rewrite the Clean Water Act.  Back in 1972, when the law was written, even liberals respected the Constitution. They understood if you wanted the federal government to regulate the waters, you had to say “navigable”so that it was legal under the Constitution’s Commerce Clause.

Representative Oberstar wants to remove the word “navigable”. How do you then explain why the federal government should regulate waters that are not navigable?  And what are waters that are not navigable — mud puddles, prairie potholes, irrigation ditches, intermittent ponds?  Or bathtubs, fish ponds, fountains, on private lands — neighborhood backyards?

This isn’t the first time Oberstar has tried this.  He tried it in 2007.  He and others were not happy with Supreme Court rulings that defined the limits Washington faced over bodies of water that had no relation to navigability or commerce.   They want full federal control over all waters. Richard Baker, then a Republican congressman from Louisiana, a state filled with waterways, called the bill “the largest-ever expansion of federal power over private property.

The federal government has already deeply damaged Central Valley farmers in California by denying them water because of an “endangered” minnow — the Delta smelt.  Unemployment in the Central Valley is high in the double digits, and orchards and vines are dying for lack of water.  Is the Delta smelt really endangered?

Farmers should be particularly concerned.  Oberstar’s bill gives federal regulators the power to police farming practices and to take their land through regulatory restrictions if those practices are deemed to be in violation of the law. There is even a clause that adds “and the land that impacts it” so it could regulate everything around it.

This is a drive by the Environmental Protection Agency to expand its jurisdiction.  Most of the justification for the existence of the agency is becoming questionable.  The air is very clean, in general, so the EPA is attempting to find possible bad effects on health from, um,  particulates, anything, that can be regulated under the Clean Air Act.  They’re not done with CO2, but the case for controlling that is becoming questionable.  So we have a grasp for power that is sanctioned at the highest level.

Liberals understand that they have a brief window in ’09 and ’10 — they are trying to get as much enacted as possible before the November elections. They need to be stopped.




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