Natural Resources

Feds in the Fishbowl

Whatever floats your boat


Under the Clean Water Act of 1972, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers are granted jurisdiction over the "navigable waters" of the United States. If a boat can float on it, it's theirs to regulate. Over the years, the definition of "navigable waters" overflowed its banks, expanding to include virtually anywhere with detectable levels of H2O.

"What began as a reasonable attempt to control water pollution in our nation's interstate rivers, lakes, and streams," says Peyton Knight at the National Center for Public Policy Research, "spiraled into unreasonable federal regulation of isolated wetlands, ponds, dry lakebeds, intermittent streams and drainage ditches." As time went on, landowners were required to obtain permits for everything from draining a field for plowing to building a dock to filling in a low wet spot.

In 2006 the U.S. Supreme Court issued a muddled opinion in Rapanos v. United States that reined in some of the more exotic interpretations of "navigable waters." Now Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.) and Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) have introduced the Clean Water Restoration Act, which would replace the phrase "navigable waters" with "waters of the United States," by which they mean "all waters subject to the ebb and flow of the tide, the territorial seas, and all interstate and intrastate waters and their tributaries, including lakes, rivers, streams (including intermittent streams), mudflats, sandflats, wetlands, sloughs, prairie potholes, wet meadows, playa lakes, natural ponds, and all impoundments of the foregoing."

If the bill passes, it will create new regulatory barriers for fishermen, boaters, hunters, and even some conservationists, who may find that their favorite hobbies no longer pass muster. The act leaves it up to the courts to decide if "waters of the United States" also includes your kitchen sink.

NEXT: Too Fat To Fry? (i.e., Execute Via Lethal Injection)

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  1. Not to mention the moisture in the back flaps of the fat broads.

  2. Congress: Is there anything they can’t regulate? Oh yeah, after Raich, the answer would be no.

    I am 70% water. So how much will be regulated by congress? This should be considered a hyperbolic, stupid, rhetorical question. Take this phrase: “subject to the ebb and flow of the tide.” The tides are caused by the gravitational pull of the moon. Despite the small amount of mass of water in me, it is still subject to the pull of the moon, albeit it small.

    My water is definitely intrastate water. And when I take a leak, I am sure some fucktard congressman would have the balls to call that an “intermittent Stream…..” especially after a few beers.

  3. Why do you people hate America?

  4. So, will that mean that I have to call the Corps of Engineers if my sink gets stopped up? Or is that an EPA issue?

    *a glimpse of the future*
    Well, I called both. The Engineers used explosives to clear the blockage, then built a wall of sandbags to try to keep the kitchen from flooding. The EPA then cited me for keeping a natural gas burning device so close to a federal wetland.

  5. Sen. Russ Feingold is seeking to expand federal jusidiction over our lives.

    Why am I not surprised.

    You Badger staters shoulld be ashamed.

  6. Regulate everything for the sake of the environment otherwise the waters run black, the air becomes smog, the grass turns brown and Cthulhu will emerge from the ocean with Dick Cheney riding on top of him to swallow children and union leaders. Got it.

  7. Lovely, more regulations for the fisherman, just what we need. How about regulations on government Stupidity? Thats where we need more regulation!


  8. So, the EPA, which was originally given control over interstate waters, now wants to take over the task of regulating pollution in all bodies of water in the US? What would happen to state environmental agencies which previously had jurisdiction? Wouldn’t this result in thousands of people losing their (state gov’t cake) jobs?

  9. Feijoa:

    don’t worry, a wetland can potentially require permits to be issued from both federal and state and sometimes local regulatory agencies.

    OTOH, in Florida we rely on wetlands for aquifer recharge and thus the majority of our tap and drinking water supplies (excepting, of course, bottled water, although some bottled water comes from Florida springs), so destroying a substantial portion of major wetlands would be bad for the general public.

    a problem is that small landowners with small, minimal input wetlands are over-enforced on these regulations, while large wetlands with significant contributions to infiltration and aquifer recharge rates may be owned by large landowners with the political pull to get exempted from the regulations.

  10. This is just the latest step in the process of tying western civilization in knots, thru the use of environmental laws and the western legal process. It is part of a long-term, unspoken plan to cause the ultimate demise of western industrialized civilization, and replace it with a tribal governance system that is based on myth and warm, cuddly “feelings”.

    Luckily for the survival of the human race, Asians will not buy into it, so they will eventually emerge as the dominant culture on this planet. They will eventually merge the commercial/technical aspects of western society with their own social mores, and the “west” will become their servants. But humanity will still survive.

    It would be interesting to see how the greens respond when they are literally conquered by the Asians.

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