It seems incredible, but a single missing word could turn a water law into a government land grab so horrendous even a U.S. Supreme Court justice warned it would “put the property rights of every American entirely at the mercy of Environmental Protection Agency employees.”
The missing word is “navigable.” The Obama administration is proposing a rule titled “Definition of ‘Waters of the United States’ Under the Clean Water Act,” which would strike “navigable” from American water law and redefine any piece of land that is wet at least part of the year, no matter how remote or isolated it may be from truly navigable waters, as “waters of the United States,” or WOTUS.
The proposed rule would provide EPA and the Corps of Engineers (as well as litigious environmental groups) with the power to dictate the land-use decisions of homeowners, small businesses and local communities throughout the United States. There would be virtually no limit to the federal government’s authority over private property.
The proposed rule has ignited a firestorm of protest. Agricultural and business interests, free-market think tanks, state agencies, attorneys general and governors have joined the “Ditch the Rule” movement and demanded it be withdrawn.
The Obama administration is conducting an aggressive shield campaign to downplay the proposed rule’s huge negative impacts and paint critics as opponents of clean water, shills for development interests or anything other than concerned citizens.
Obama’s own political shills for anti-development interests, such as Organizing for Action, Natural Resources Defense Council and Clean Water Action, are marching in lockstep with the agencies to discredit any opposition to the rule.
But recently, a group of 25 U.S. senators called out the Obama administration for misleading Americans on the proposed rule. In a scathing letter to the EPA and the Corps, the senators detailed the administration’s deceptions and bias:
- The Obama administration claims the proposed “Waters of the United States” rule responds to prior requests for a Clean Water Act rulemaking. It does not.
- The Obama administration insinuates that opposition to the proposed rule is equivalent to opposition to clean water. It is not.
- EPA has attempted to delegitimize questions and concerns surrounding the proposed rule. Concerns are legitimate.
- EPA and the Corps have blatantly misrepresented the impacts of increased Clean Water Act jurisdiction. The impacts are real.
- EPA’s social media advocacy in favor of the proposed “Waters of the United States” rule prejudices the rule-making process. It kills debate.
Affected parties are more credible in this battle than the administration. The American Farm Bureau started the “Ditch the Rule” movement with pictures that showed what the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers would regulate if the Waters of the United States rule takes effect: “wetlands” that are nothing more than low spots on a farm field, the decorative pond of a suburban home or even a vacant lot that the agency designates as possessing the requisite wetness.
If the farmer fills in low spots or the homeowner builds a child’s playhouse by the pond, or a business constructs a new office on the vacant lot or anyone touches any bureaucrat-designated “wetland” in any way, the EPA or Corps may order the owners to cease activity, restore original conditions and abandon any use of the property.
Delivered by The Daily Sheeple
Contributed by Ron Arnold of The Daily Signal.