Not another Federal Power Grab!

It’s not enough that Barack Obama and the Democrats want complete control of health care, the financial system and the air above, now they are advancing a bill that will control the land beneath our feet.

You can forget the property provision of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution and tear up any deeds you may now possess.   If this bill passes, that property you own won’t be worth more than the paper those deeds are written on unless you have the blessing of Big Brother’s bureaucrats.

The bill in question is the Clean Water Restoration Act, most recently renamed in the House of Representatives  “America’s Commitment to Clean Water Act.”  How patriotic and sinister sweet it sounds!

What does the Clean Water Act have to do with property that may have been bone dry since Noah’s flood?    Everything, if the word “navigable” is stripped from the law.

The intent of the Clean Water Act, passed in 1972, was to protect the nation’s waterways, navigable waterways — the kind boats travel down — from pollution.  The protection of creeks and streams was left to the individual states.  Over the years, over zealous jurists and overreaching bureaucrats at the EPA, the Army Corps of Engineers, Fish and Wildlife Service and the Soil Conservation Service used the Act to expand their control to include wetlands.

What is a wetland?

Most reasonable people would say it is land that has at least a little water standing on it which includes reeds and other vegetation that waterfowl use to build their nests.

Not so!  A wetland is simply the jurisdictional term of choice used by the federal government.  It has expanded to the point that it has covered the occasional back yard mud puddle.  And, the mud puddle in question didn’t have to come from a natural source like an overflowing pond or even rain water, it could be created by a drippy hose or a broken sprinkler pipe.

Consider the case of Bill Lyons who built a little ranch near San Francisco on land he reclaimed from the desert.  In 1990, a representative from Fish & Wildlife discovered some water in a low spot by a gate where his cows went in and out to pasture.  There was no water anywhere for miles that didn’t come from his well, but his property was declared a wetland.

In 1987, the definition of a wetland was so broad that if you dug down 18 inches and found moisture, not water, for seven days during the “growing season” you had yourself a wetland and the government had the power to stop you from improving or, in some cases, using your land at all.

Needless to say, millions of dollars have been spent by countless private (and public) land holders like Mr. Lions in the attempt to fight these onerous regulations.

Recent Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006, attempted to rein in these excesses by reaffirming the existence of both statutory and constitutional limits on the scope of these regulations.  However, the High Court refused to wipe out the onerous wetland’s regulations entirely.  Instead, the Supremes said that federal control only extended to those wetlands that have a “significant nexus” to the navigable waters of the U.S.

Unfortunately, the court didn’t define “significant nexus.”  Therefore, the EPA and the Corps of Engineers held on to that 1987 regulation.  Land owners are still twisting in the wind and private property is still being “taken” through this regulation.

When these takings occur, a property owner is not compensated as is the case with “public domain.”  Instead, the property owner holds the title to the land and still pays the taxes on it, but the property owner simply cannot put that land to the use he or she intended.  In some cases, the property owner cannot use the land at all.

Nevertheless, the radical environmentalists are not satisfied.  They are leaning on their Democrat friends to pass this bill in order to strip the term “navigable” from the law.  If that happens, the feds will go back to confiscating property with abandon.

Do the Democrats dare move forward with this legislation before the 2010 election?  Many see the handwriting on the wall and want to push it through for fear they will lose their grip on the controls of Congress.  They see this as their one big chance to gain absolute control of our land.

Find moisture, not water, on your property and you could be left with a tax bill for land you simply cannot unload or use.    That will put us further down the path to Obamatopia.

9 thoughts on “Not another Federal Power Grab!

  1. This is an absolutely obsurd article that is based totally on the misconceptions of an uninformed “commentator”. The thought that if you have a puddle in your yard – it is considered a wetland is completely false and has no basis in reality. There are many things that determine what is considered a wetland, and just because it’s wet is not enough for that determination. Instead of inciting people’s overactive imagination as to the government taking over all aspects of your existance, do some real research!

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  2. Nice try. I have been researching and writing about this issue since for 19 years. I recently posted some of my previous columns on the blog. You can read them simply by clicking on the category Clean Water Act or Property Rights. I encourage my serious readers to do just that. Also, put your representatives on notice. Do not touch the word “navigable” in the Clean Water Act. Hopefully, with a new Congress, we can get some helpful reform with clear guidelines that will protect property owners.

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  3. Its amazing that in all your discussions of the Clean Water Act you leave out the pollution being dumped into those streams and wetlands that aren’t currently under the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act (due to the supreme court rulings). Instead you focus on a bogeyman of the government regulating everyone’s mud puddles.

    Why do you think industry should have free reign to dump pollution into a PUBLIC resource? Why should the price of the product they produce not reflect the environmental externalities it took to create the product? Not passing the Clean Water Restoration Act is corporate welfare of the highest degree. I thought a good conservative would be against big corporate subsidies.

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  4. Jane, I agree that the usurper (see JB Williams column “The Bottom Line on Natural Born Citizen,” Canada Free Press (April 21, 2010,) along with his Democratic comrades are attempting to control everything they can while in power. However, I’m concerned that this administration will create another crisis giving Obama an excuse to declare martial law, thus precluding the midterm elections. Recall, we are still under a “national emergency,” which to my knowledge hasn’t been rescinded. The Democrats are just too cocky for there not to be something going on.. Your column is certainly in line with their continued grab for control of everything they can.

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  5. If you look at the cash flow, the money is going to the people defending or enforcing the law. Surprise, the lawyers get the cash!

    All one has to do to avoid paying the lawyers is to hire union employees to work on or guard the property and they will be subsidized by the government.

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  6. Jane is 100% correct. I have been subjected to this in my state of michigan.farm news Family fights DEQ and wins without an attorney.

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  7. http://www.cleanwaternetwork.org/resources/report/investigation-reveals-cover-dropped-cwa-enforcement-actions

    “A leaked EPA memo reported that in the period between July 2006 through December 2007, 305 Clean Water Act enforcement cases were dropped and 147 were officially ‘de-prioritized.’”

    Dropped or de-prioritized because the EPA probably wouldn’t have been able to win the case (due to the confusion stemming from the Rapanos Supreme Court case)

    I had a big laugh at you saying the bills proponents were participating in “‘the sky is falling’ hyperbole.” Take a look at your column, Im sure you’ll find more of the same. “**gasp** Obama is going to regulate all of our mud puddles and take all of our land from us, No!!!!!!”

    Please note that I am not a democrat. I am just simply someone that sees a need for strong pollution control legislation to ensure America’s resources aren’t wasted.

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  8. Jacob,

    Please! I don’t want to see our waterways polluted. No one does. Yes, the EPA, thankfully, has backed off some of these frivolous cases, as well it should. However, I can’t find any hard examples of real polluters who are not prosecuted. Some cases are being handled a the state level, as they should.

    And, yes, a columnist’s job is to be provocative. However, when I write something, I better be able to back it up with facts or no one would take me seriously. Read some of my previous columns I put up on this subject. You will find one that occurred over what was, essentially, a mud puddle; another, where a true environmentalists, Bill Ellen, was put into federal prison for building duck ponds.

    As time permits, I will put up more examples of this kind of abuse and I encourage my knowledgeable readers to do the same.

    As for political parties, Nixon was responsible for the Clean Water Act, which was a good idea before activists jurists and overreaching bureaucrats began to use it as a club for the radical environmental movement to allow the government to grab land without paying property owners for it.

    Ellen was put in prison by the Bush 41 Administration. 41 promised legislators he would do something about these onerous regulations but never did. Bush 43, also did nothing.

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