The Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.)Oberstar work on the original Clean Water Act legislation in 1972 as a staff assistant to Rep. John Blatnik (Minnesota Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party).
(1) by striking `navigable waters of the United States' each place it appears and inserting `waters of the United States';
(2) in section 304(l)(1) by striking `NAVIGABLE WATERS' in the paragraph heading and inserting `WATERS OF THE UNITED STATES'; and
(3) by striking `navigable waters' each place it appears and inserting `waters of the United States'.
After the US Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006 in which the Justices were unable to agree upon the meaning of "navigable", the authority of the Clean Water Act "to regulate lakes, rivers, streams and wetlands across the U.S." was severely curtailed leaving the law in confusion to Democrat's way of thinking. The current proposal to eliminate the crucial word "navigable" may be a landmark for the Federal government's total control of all waters in the US including lands that may only occasionally carry water, such as ditches, flood plains, and temporary wetlands. Oberstar thinks his legislation will restore the Clean Water Act to a pre-2001 state. The Congressman said,
"There was never any doubt that the Clean Water Act was to have broad authority... There were no limits on the number of streams, lakes or shorelines to be protected; it just said ‘the waters of the United States.' The Supreme Court has greatly limited the scope of the act and greatly confused the application of existing law."William S. Brennan, questioned the wisdom, altruism, and sanity of the proposed bill in an article written April 21, Hydrocommerce Corner-Where Water & Money Meet; America's Clean Water Act 2010-Happy Earth Day! -
Excuse me Congressman...Why are you deleting the word "navigable" from the new legislation?As with everything concern an ever expanding government, deleting the requirement that waters must be navigable for government control lends opportunities for unheard of controls in the future. The amended act could also include backyard streams and ponds; lawns, gardens of flowers and vegetables, fruiting trees and vines all using water, pesticides, and fertilizers. Even swimming pools and spas could fall under Federal control with the nebulous language of H.R. 5088 because chlorine and other environmentally dangerous chemicals are used in them. From there, it would be only a small step to regulation of bathtubs.
H.R. 5088 deletes the term "navigable waters" and replaces it with its statutory definition "waters of the United States." The Supreme Court unanimously agreed that "navigable" never required navigation-in-fact, but created confusion when no majority of the Court could agree what "navigable" means. While Oberstar and his supporters will say the bill does not create new federal jurisdiction over groundwater, diminish States' rights over water quality or quantity or impact normal farming and ranching activities, others believe the legislation's removal of the word "navigable" from the current definition of the Clean Water Act would effectively allow all waters (and possibly land too) to be subject to new and sweeping federal regulations and permitting. Sound too farfetched? The bill expands regulatory authority to "activities affecting these waters," an over reach by any means and an extremely broad provision to regulate land hidden inside a water bill.
So, to sum it up, H.R.5088 will create an expansive ability to regulate any land that can affect any water—however small and isolated—thereby creating federal jurisdiction over all the land and all the water in the United States!
Let's see... In the past year, the federal government has taken control over our banks, cars and healthcare. Control your finances, what you drive and who will be eligible to receive proper and appropriate medical treatment. Now, the play appears to handcuff the farmer and every other industry that is a major water user (and in some cases, abuser) by taking the first steps under the proposed legislation and the term "waters of the United States". If the Court could not make a decision on navigable after 30 years, how are they going to do with Oberstar's catch phrase? I wonder if the drought in the Central Valley of California which, if you take the time to investigate the Federal government's water policy and how it contributed to that fiasco, can be replicated throughout our breadbasket in the Mid-West and perhaps Hawaii for that matter? I apologize for my tone but your basic freedoms are further under attack and this legislation's grab for life's most precious commodity is another "control mechanism" that the Federal government seems dead bent on pursuing in an unabashed attempt to seize power of various aspects of our lives – in a growing filed that consists of healthcare, financial, and now your water. The new legislation does nothing to take corrective action against water pollution but takes a monumental step forward in "federalizing" what should remain at the state and local government level. As it looks now, the EPA could quickly emerge as one of the most powerful departments within the Federal government if such water legislation passes.
The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.