American Elephants

EPA Using Clean Water Act to Seize More Power by The Elephant's Child

Congress has increasingly become sloppy in creating legislation. They have often left the finer details for the bureaucrats in America’s vast regulatory enterprise to devise. Laws that do not carefully spell out the limits of legislation come back to haunt the country when agencies use their very vagueness to grasp for more regulatory power.

The Clean Air Act of 1970 and the 1972 Clean Water Act are two of the prime examples. The Environmental Protection Agency, staffed with green activists, is unrestrained in its grasp for ever more control over America and Americans.

Back in the early 70s, the smog in Los Angeles lay like a thick yellow-brown blanket smothering the fabled orange groves of the Golden State. Sewer outfalls emptied into rivers and lakes, and the Cuyahoga River caught fire. Americans wanted clean air and clean water. The efforts to clean up produced catalytic converters, sewage treatment plants and air-quality monitoring, and the efforts worked.  Both our air and our water are remarkably clean.

The EPA is attempting to unnecessarily regulate ever-finer particulates in the air, and even dust on the farm.  Now they are going after the water.

The 1972 Clean Water Act was originally intended to protect the “navigable waters of the United States.”  “Navigable” means that boats can go there. It was broadly interpreted to mean any pool of water in America capable of supporting a toy boat. The act’s scope was expanded to the point that water remaining after a rainstorm became a “wetland” requiring environmental protection.

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. And their expansive view is breathtaking in its grasping nature.

The EPA recently revoked the coal mining permit for Arch Coal’s Spruce Mine No. 1 in Logan County, W. Va. The permit was issued four years ago, and Arch Coal has, since then followed every word of the rules it was told to operate under. Arch Coal provides 16% of America’s supply, and they have invested $250 million in the mountain-top mining operation which when fully operational would have employed 215 miners and 300 support jobs.

The EPA said it was operating under the authority of the Clean Water Act. They said the mine employed “destructive and unsustainable mining practices that jeopardize the health of Appalachian communities and clean water on which the depend.  The EPA is currently suspending 79 such surface mining permits in West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee.  It says these permits could violate the Clean Water Act and warrant “enhanced” review.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson says she’s not against coal mining, but wants to see it “done in a way that minimizes impact to water quality.” Sure she does. Her boss said, even back when he was campaigning, that he intended to bankrupt the coal industry.

This isn’t about clean water. Cap-and-trade was not about climate change. Regulation of fine particulates is not about clean air. This is about increasing government power over every aspect of our lives.

Where does it stop?  They want ever more control. Why?  Why are they trying to drive up the price of gas?  Why are they trying to shut down every source of energy in favor of the ones that simply do not work?  Why are they trying to confiscate public lands?  Why are they so invested in control of our personal lives?  Why do they want control of our ponds, ditches, rain puddles and water fixtures?  Waterfront property may become a liability instead of an enhancement.

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