Clean Water Restoration Act Scheduled for Senate Committee Vote June 18

An important message from National Center for Public Policy Research Senior Fellow R.J. Smith on the Clean Water Restoration Act, which is less about protecting our nation’s waters and more about expanding the federal government’s power to regulate private property.

From R.J. Smith:

I received an email at 11:05 p.m. last night from Senate Environment and Public Works staff that Senator Barbara Boxer and company are going to bring the Clean Water Restoration Act (CWRA) up for full committee mark-up and vote in their Thursday 18 June business session scheduled for 9:30 a.m. in the EPW Hearing Room, 406 Dirksen.This is Senator Russ Feingold’s S.787, which was introduced on April 2.

With the Democrats having nationalized the financial, banking and automobile industries — bringing a strong layer of socialism to the key portions of the US economy — they are now moving to nationalize the American land and water.

Under the Clean Water Act, the Federal government only had the authority to regulate “navigable waters” and control the discharge of pollutants and dredge and fill activities within those navigable waters.

The so-called Clean Water RESTORATION Act restores nothing. That is a hoax. Instead, it removes the restrictive and limiting terms “navigable” waters and unconstitutionally extends the Federal regulatory authority over ALL waters of the United States. This includes the driest desert areas that may only hold water for a few weeks a year during summer monsoon rains. And it includes completely isolated prairie potholes (small ponds and marshes) with no connection whatsoever to any other waters.

Furthermore, the bill will now prohibit ALL activities affecting all waters of the United States. This means that anything a landowner, a business, a county roads department, a waterfowl conservation program undertakes that could conceivably affect anything that is wet — will be subject to the discretionary jurisdiction of Army Corps or EPA bureaucrats. They will then be able to make the lives of family farmers, ranchers, tree farmers, home builders — almost anyone and everyone — literally impossible. They will have the total power to force every farmer or rancher or ordinary business owner to run a gauntlet of permits, red tape, delays — that will delay projects long enough and cost so much as to essentially shut down or bankrupt even the most necessary and innocuous projects.

There are copious examples of wetlands horror stories over the last 20 years in which people have been imprisoned and fined staggering amounts for simply building their own home, cleaning up dumps, or creating habitat for waterfowl. And that occurred under the CWA restrictions of “navigable waters” and prohibitions only on discharging pollutants and dredge and fill activities.

Once those constraints are removed by the CWRA, life will quickly become a bureaucratic nightmare with no exit — particularly so throughout all of rural America. This bill would be much more honestly named “The Rural Cleansing Act of 2009.”

This will be a tough battle given that the E&PW Committee make up is 12 Ds and 7 Rs (which includes Senators George Voinovich and Lamar Alexander).

It is important that people who are concerned about this enlist the help of the agricultural community, especially county and state farm bureaus. They should notify not only the members of the Senate E&PW but also the Senate Agriculture Committee.

It is also vital to contact Rep. Collin Peterson Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee and request that he ask for oversight hearings on the impact of the CWRA on America’s farmers and the nation’s food production.

They should also request that the farmers and ranchers they know and their county and state farm bureaus and cattlemen’s associations contact the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, asking them to strongly oppose the CWRA.

Addendum (6/14/09): For more information on the Clean Water restoration act, please visit our new CWRA information webpage at

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