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  • Senators Stand Up to EPA’s Assault on Private Property

    On April 27, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a Clean Water Act jurisdictional guidance document that would drastically expand the EPA’s ability to regulate private land and water. Just as the EPA used regulation to get around Congress’s rejection of cap-and-trade legislation to tax carbon dioxide, the agency is again ignoring Congress after policymakers failed to move legislation forward.

    Last Congress, Representative Jim Oberstar (D–MN) and Senator Russ Feingold (D–WI) tried to expand the powers of the EPA by introducing legislation that would replace the term “navigable waters” in the Clean Water Act (CWA) with “waters of the U.S.,” which would significantly expand what the EPA could regulate. Congress rejected the Oberstar–Feingold approach, but now EPA is unilaterally moving forward with its own rules that would stunt economic activity and job creation.

    EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said it would not be a “massive increase as far as we can tell” in terms of new waters under federal jurisdiction but did say, “I do think there will be some expansion [of regulatory jurisdiction] to waters that currently people might view as isolated.” In response to the guidance, Senator John Barrasso (R–WY) and 19 other Senators sent a letter to Jackson expressing their concern about the EPA’s guidance. The letter says:

    It is particularly troubling that the guidance allows the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and EPA to regulate waters now considered entirely under state jurisdiction. This unprecedented exercise of power will allow EPA to trump states’ rights, and vitiate the authority of state and local governments to make local land and water use decisions. This is particularly troubling when we have seen no evidence that the states are misusing or otherwise failing to meet their responsibilities.

    Enormous resources will be needed to expand the CWA federal regulatory program. Not only will there be a host of landowners and project proponents who will now be subject to the CWA’s mandates and costs of obtaining permits, but an increase in the number of permits needed will lead to longer permitting delays. Increased delays in securing permits will impede a host of economic activities in our states. Commercial and residential real estate development, agriculture, electric transmission, transportation, energy development and mining will all be effected [sic] and thousands of jobs will be lost. Moreover, the agencies will need additional resources to complete jurisdictional determinations and administer the overall program. As the geographic scope of authority grows, so do the needs for program resources.

    The letter asks a number of critical questions, including the draft guidance’s broad interpretation of a Supreme Court decision in which Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy said “regulators must determine where there’s a ‘significant nexus’ between a wetland and navigable waters.” This means the EPA will waste resources and taxpayer dollars trying to determine what is in its jurisdiction to regulate and hold up farming, ranching, homebuilding, and small business activity. Jonathan Adler, director of the Center for Business Law and Regulation at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law, said, “The problem is, you’ve got to do a hell of a lot of research to show if you have a significant nexus. You’ve got to do this long, expensive project to figure this out before you do anything else. It makes the whole project much longer in time span and also more involved up front.”

    The guidance is now in a 60-day comment period, and Jackson made no mention of when an actual rule would be put forward, but the proposed guidance suggests any rule would be extremely destructive to economic development. The ambiguity about which waters should be regulated does not mean a federal one-size-fits-all approach is the best fix. In fact, the opposite is true. A decentralized approach that relies on state and local government involvement is the best approach to promote environmental conservation without compromising economic development.

    Posted in Energy [slideshow_deploy]

    13 Responses to Senators Stand Up to EPA’s Assault on Private Property

    1. Greg B. Vail, az says:

      We need to eliminate the EPA!! (The Departments of Education and Energy as long as we are at it). Nothing good comes from groups that arbitrarily instigate policy that has not been approved by Congress.

    2. allen says:

      When the Lair Adm with their henchman are replaced on the next election we can desolve the EPA get rid of it, return it to the States where it was in the beginning.

    3. Ben C., Ann Arbor, M says:

      Ask Peter Spencer from Australia how he feels about government intervention in the name "protecting the environment." Its a compelling story of one mans stand against an oppressive government – and its Australia!

    4. David Weikel says:

      This has got to stop. The American people must stand up to this blatant overreach by the Federal government. Allowing Executive Branch organizations to establish mandated policies (equal to laws) that step on the rights of individuals and states cannot be tolerated.

    5. Mike, Wichita Falls says:

      Since all of these new EPA regulations came about without Congressional debate and approval, they can be eliminated without the same by a new, Constitution-honoring, freedom-friendly, liberty-loving President and administration in January 2013. The EPA is really hitting us hard down here in Texas from clean air, water and land mandates, not laws mind you, while our own state regulatory agencies were doing just fine prior to Obama. November 2012 can't come soon enough.

    6. ROY S. MALLMANN II says:

      Unless I read this wrong, the EPA is operating by misusing the Commerce Clause and that, in my opinion, is why it is limited to NAVIGABLE waters. This is a huge attempt for the federal government to take over and screw up a large part of the country and will trample states rights. Who do they think they are?

    7. Bruce G, Redding Ca. says:

      It is time for the citizens of this great country to demand that Congress stop allowing the Departments of the Federal Government to set policy. Return to the states the power that is legitimately theirs to start with. The different departments are legislating without representation for the citizens. It is this action that increases the size of government. This costing the tax payer, not just for more Federal employees but also development fees and time spent trying to conform to the ever increasing Federal regulations. The time is now, to reduce the size of the Federal government and it's plethora of ineffective programs.

    8. Doc Hilliard, SoCal says:

      Obviously the EPA must be eliminated altogether.

    9. Gary C, Waxhaw, NC. says:

      You folks are all kidding yourselves. Allen, do you really believe the EPA is going away? Being dissolved if and after an R gets in? Why would you think that and what R is going to do it? Tell me when gov't has ever shrunk in size or power from one year to the next.

      Before you brand me negative, just answer the questions.

      Bottom line: it's a juggernaut, we created it and you/we can't stop it. BTW – how's the much hearlded Obama care repeal/starvation going?



    10. Larry Huffman, Piqua says:

      I agree that it's time to do away with the EPA and start over. I also agree the departments of education and energy should be abolished. None of those three has been a help to this nation.

    11. Tom Sullivan in FL says:

      We don't need to eliminate the EPA. We must freeze its power to expand jurisdiction and its cost to the nation.

      Then we should review EPA functions and trim it back to reasonable areas of jurisdiction, and trim the cost of its regulations where reasonable. Recently we found out that milk producers had to treat milk spills similarly to oil spills, for example.

      The EPA is not evil per se. What is evil is government which grows constantly, like cancer, endangering the health of the republic, and eventually endangering its life.

    12. and2therepublic, ill says:

      "Were we directed from Washington when to sow, and when to reap, we should soon want bread."

      Thos. Jefferson – Autobiography – 1821

    13. Sharon Yreka CA says:

      The EPA is one of many agencies out of control…..Here in Siskiyou county we are under attack with the threat of a national monument that would lock up a huge portion of our federal lands, and affectively lock up private lands as well. This county is 65% federal land and the Endangered Species Act has the greater portion of these lands locked up already!

      Let’s have a look at what the ESA , Clean Water act, Clean air Act, Biological Corridors and who know what else, has done to us a country. These acts, laws and regulations sound harmless and “good for the environment”, but are we as a country getting stronger or weaker? Every time some “not so rational” environmental group (or even a single person with a single stamp) uses the fine print and legalese of these “harmless” laws against us, it costs this country loss of jobs, productivity and is one of the reasons for the huge political divide in America today. If there is one thing we now all know since the “bailout”, it is that not even lawmakers read the fine print in the bills they vote for.

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