Get PJ Media on your Apple

EPA Unveils ‘Largest Expansion’ of ‘Authority to Regulate Private Property’

Clean Water Act rule ropes in streams that only fill when it rains, ornamental landscape features, anything deemed to affect downstream waters.

by
Bridget Johnson

Bio

March 25, 2014 - 6:09 pm

WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency today unveiled its proposed rule to bring natural and man-made bodies of water big and tiny under the purview of the Clean Water Act, sparking accusations that the administration has embarked on an unprecedented breach of private property rights without scientific basis.

This launches a “robust outreach effort” to gather input in shaping a final rule over the next 90 days, the EPA said, maintaining that the rulemaking isn’t groundbreaking but a clarification effort needed to clearly define streams and wetlands protection after Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006.

Even though the definition of waters protected under the Clean Water Act will reach everywhere from drainage ditches to creeks on private property under the proposed rule, the EPA says “it does not protect any new types of waters that have not historically been covered under the Clean Water Act.”

“We are clarifying protection for the upstream waters that are absolutely vital to downstream communities,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “Clean water is essential to every single American, from families who rely on safe places to swim and healthy fish to eat, to farmers who need abundant and reliable sources of water to grow their crops, to hunters and fishermen who depend on healthy waters for recreation and their work, and to businesses that need a steady supply of water for operations.”

The EPA wants to cover “most” seasonal and rain-dependent streams, which account for about 60 percent of stream miles in the country, arguing they have “a considerable impact on the downstream waters.”

Wetlands “near rivers and streams” would be protected under the CWA, and “other types of waters [that] may have more uncertain connections with downstream water and protection will be evaluated through a case specific analysis of whether the connection is or is not significant.”

Overall, the EPA states, a third of waters in the U.S. don’t meet Clean Water Act standards. “The rule will not be finalized until the final version of this scientific assessment is complete,” the EPA said, acknowledging that its draft review is still in progress.

“As expected, the EPA’s proposed water rule expands the agency’s control over natural and man-made streams, lakes, ponds and wetlands. If approved, this rule could allow the EPA to regulate virtually every body of water in the United States,” House Science, Space and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) said. “In preparing this proposal, the EPA failed to incorporate adequate peer-reviewed science in accordance with the agency’s own statutory obligations.”

“This could be the largest expansion ever of EPA’s authority to regulate private property. It’s troubling that the Administration proposed this expansion before its independent science advisors have had the chance to complete its review of the underlying science,” Smith added. “The Obama administration continues to sidestep scientific integrity in order to fast track an abusive regulatory agenda.”

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Ranking Member David Vitter (R-La.) echoed the warning that the new rule “may be one of the most significant private property grabs in U.S. history.”

“Today’s rule also shows EPA picking and choosing the science they use,” Vitter added. “Peer review of the Agency’s connectivity report is far from complete, and yet they want to take another step toward outright permitting authority over virtually any wet area in the country, while at the same time providing a new tool for environmental groups to sue private property owners.”

Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.) noted the irony that the EPA was adding another regulatory burden on National Agriculture Day.

“Today’s proposed water rule is yet another example of the Administration’s reckless use of power,” Hultgren said. “EPA has predictably expanded their jurisdiction to include nearly every body of water: ditches, wetlands, streams, flood plains and even ornamental landscape features. Further, the rule is not based on science—they disregarded their own Scientific Advisory Board and used limited and out-of-date information to analyze the rule’s economic impact.”

“While EPA claims that exemptions to the rule will eliminate costly ramifications for farmers and businesses, in truth, the exemptions are so narrow that most agriculture practices do not even qualify,” continued Hultgren, who sits on the House Science and Agriculture committees.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), though, said the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers “have done the right thing by bringing certainty to various regulated sectors of our economy that had been asking EPA for a rule to fix to their regulatory limbo.”

“The importance of the disputed streams and wetlands is on display every day in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The shoreline of the Chesapeake and its tidal tributaries stretch for over 2,000 miles and more than 100,000 streams and rivers and thousands of acres of wetlands provide the freshwater that flows into the Bay. If we do not protect the health of this incredible network of waters, we cannot hope to restore the Chesapeake to its former health,” Cardin added.

The Sierra Club praised the administration’s action, necessitated by “confusing Supreme Court rulings.”

“For too long, dirty fossil fuel companies and land developers have exploited the uncertainty over which waters are protected by the Clean Water Act to pollute our lakes, rivers and streams. As a result, the drinking water sources for more than a third of all Americans have been put at risk,” Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said. “…We look forward to a robust public comment period and to seeing a strong rule finalized quickly.”

Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
Non-compliance will het you a hefty ticket and YES, neighbors reporting of neighbors will be encouraged.

That's just standard operating procedure in communist and fascist societies. The Communists and the Nazis both got most of their prison inmates on the basis of one neighbor ratting out another; their torturers then forced the person accused of "crimes against the state" (like criticizing the leader) to confess, then they were harshly punished if not killed outright.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
This is just fascism on the installment plan.

My position is that they can have access to the rain-dependent stream in my back yard when they climb over my cold, lifeless body.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
>>For too long, dirty fossil fuel companies and land developers have exploited the uncertainty

For too long, fringe environmental groups and megalomaniacal bureaucrats have run like jackbooted thugs over the free people of the USA. It's time to leash these folks in like the rabid dogs they've become.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (40)
All Comments   (40)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
This take over of all stream, ditches and even dry washes that may only run with water every couple of years, is outrageous. It will really impact the west because the Federal Government will control all irrigation water that ranchers and farmers use and OWN the right to use. This is a big property right power grab with the potential to cause starvation just like Stalin caused in the Ukraine where he killed millions inside of a year.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Mr. Potter is now a liberal progressive on a first name basis with George Soros, who lives in Bethesda and attends $10,000 a plate fundraising dinners for the Democrat Party. Go figure.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
A little rill ran through the north end of my Dad's property into a culvert under the road. It was generally about 4 inches wide and an inch deep. Over the years it had carved itself down 3 or 4 feet worth of embankment. In the spring, though, and especially after a heavy snowfall it could fill the banks for a couple of weeks during the snow-melt.

Because of that, this little rill was deemed "navigable", and the EPA took it over. Without compensation, since the EPA has declared itself to have a natural right-of-way along navigable waters.

Our government in action. I hear a lot about how the vast majority of government workers are decent people. I no longer believe it. They have overwhelmingly become a bunch self-righteous, empowered parasites. Defund; defund; defund.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Will be interesting when the 'sustainable" farmers in the Chesapeake area find their "sustainable" livestock operations will be shut down.

They will be found polluting the Chesapeake and have to close down...not based on science, not based on any lab test, not based on fact....but because someone thinks so.
Yet, their rich neighbor with two horses (pets) will be able to keep theirs.

My city does not want my roof water running into the storm water system so it is piped to the back yard. EPA does not want it piped to my back yard because its taking away from the water flow.

I have been to Science Review Board meetings pre and post Obama. Now, the questions are prepped and delivered to specific invitees and experts on the board. The yare NOT allowed to address the other questions. It is all staged with hand selected questions and hand selected advisors....ones leaning another way or too critical are rejected.

Its a farce and a lie. EPA used to stand for something. Now, just like IRS, DOJ, OSHA, it is an agenda tule.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
if the Sierra Club are in favour of these new rules, then the right thing to do is to oppose them. It is that simple.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Our forebears would 'go off' on you if you messed w/their horses OR water. Both were 'life' sustaining and private. They would defend them to the death. Now 'down srtream' users, many large municipalities that already damed up the rivers for their use, want more and more. They are demanding sovreignty over the peeps in rural areas. Water 'rights' are becoming a political football. Water is the one thing that people without it will 'kill' for in a very short period of time. The EPA is trying to play GOD...again. Nature is beautiful and hard. People had better relearn how to catch and store rainwater. Water means life or death. Do you trust the government to 'provide' for you? Or BIG corps? Good luck people. Life could get real hard...real quick...w/out WATER.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Perhaps water riots?

Perhaps just anther reason the Feds are stocking up on billions (yes, with a "B") of rounds of ammo.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Our forbears fought a lot about water. The upstream people did not like it in Mass. when the downstream mill-owners built dams which kept the herring and alewives from migrating upstream as they had always done. In general, the mill owners and the industrial revolution won out over the upstream farmers and fishermen. I assume that we would all agree that I don't have the right to dump toxic waste in my little piece of water upstream. I probably don't have the right to send a lot of silt downstream. We need some federal regulation because upstream and downstream states don't always see things the same way. Choosing between whether a large metropolis gets its drinking water protected from farmers who want to grow things to feed said large metropolis is not a cut and dried issue, is it? Who decides?
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Non-compliance will het you a hefty ticket and YES, neighbors reporting of neighbors will be encouraged.

That's just standard operating procedure in communist and fascist societies. The Communists and the Nazis both got most of their prison inmates on the basis of one neighbor ratting out another; their torturers then forced the person accused of "crimes against the state" (like criticizing the leader) to confess, then they were harshly punished if not killed outright.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
I didn't say that outright but that is exactly what I was alluding to.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
In many small towns with small streams the leading cause of pollution are the homeless living under the bridges. They throw their waste into the streams and yes, poop in them. Our local water quality people are baffeled by the almost constant levels of ecoli in the water and usually blame it on the deer. When they figure out that the homeless are causing the problem the solution will not be to put the homless back into the hospitals where they can be warm, clean, and get the care they need, but to install portapotties under every bridge and overpass in the country.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Read the Chesapeake Watershed report from a few years ago. Chesapeake Bay Foundation, etc. The water test indicated no significant human waste although very high in typical farm run-off. There was the regular back ground noise from deer and geese fecal matter.

Recommendation: shoot the deer and geese because they are polluting the environment.

BTW, Obama DID build that. We should call them Obama Bridge Homes....built by stimulous and inhabited by us.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
We can all posthumously thank Richard Nixon for delivering us this disaster that is aiding and abetting fundamental transformation.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Get rid of the Bid "E"'s : EDUCATION. ENERGY. EPA.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
1 2 Next View All