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.

The EPA May Have Gone Too Far This Time! by The Elephant's Child

The out-of-control EPA may have gone a step too far. Unphased by slap-downs from the Supreme Court, the rogue agency continues their grab for power under the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act. Everybody wants clean air and clean water, the problems arise when it comes to defining “clean.”

The EPA wants all fine particles removed from the air — which is impossible. They have tried to regulate farm dust, and made outrageous claims their program is expected to save a specific large number of American children from contracting asthma. Unfortunately, the medical profession does not know the cause of asthma — but the EPA claims to.

When Congress passed laws allowing the EPA to protect clean air and clean water, they were unfortunately vague because they didn’t know what scientifically defined”clean” air. When it came to water, they gave the EPA some jurisdiction over the “navigable waters” of the country, which the EPA has assumed means any moving or still water anywhere.

Their latest gambit is to use the Clean Water Act (CWA) to control land alongside ditches, gullies, and temporary water sources caused by rain or snowmelt by claiming that they are part of navigable waterways. A spring leads to a trickle that enlarges to a creek that becomes a stream that  flows into a river and eventually you do get to a navigable waterway, except they are trying to trace every raindrop back to its source. Which is absurd. But such action would make it harder for private property owners to build in their own backyards, grow crops, raise livestock and conduct activities on their own land.

“Never in the history of the CWA has federal regulation defined ditches and other upland features as ‘waters of the United States,’” said Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), the ranking committee member, and Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio), chairman of the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment.

“This is without a doubt an expansion of federal jurisdiction,” the lawmakers said in a May 31 letter to House colleagues.

This unusual alliance of powerful House Republicans and Democrats to jointly sponsor legislation to overturn the new guidelines signals a willingness on Capitol Hill to rein in the rogue agency.

The Obama administration is doing everything in its power to increase costs and regulatory burdens for American businesses, farmers and individual property owners,” Mica said in a statement to Human Events. “This federal jurisdiction grab has been opposed by Congress for years, and now the administration and its agencies are ignoring law and rulemaking procedures in order to tighten their regulatory grip over every water body in the country.”

“But this administration needs to realize it is not above the law,” Mica said.

The measure in the House has 64 cosponsors and was passed in committee last week. A companion speech is being studied in the Senate and is cosponsored by 26 Republicans. Key Supreme Court decisions against the federal government in cases involving the Clean Water Act have prompted a new round of guidelines by the agencies involved to define what they want to consider waterways.

“President Obama’s EPA continues to act as if it is above the law. It is using this overreaching guidance to pre-empt state and local governments, farmers and ranchers, small business owners and homeowners from making local land and water use decisions,” Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said in announcing their measure in March. “Our bill will stop this unprecedented Washington power grab and restore Americans’ property rights.”

“It’s time to get EPA lawyers out of Americans’ backyards,” Barrasso said.

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