Latest posts by Nancy Thorner (see all)
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Things continue to happen under the radar while this nation and its people are immersed in headlines about Obamacare and the tussle in Congress over the delays fostered by the disastrous October 1st roll out of the Obamacare Government Exchange. But juggling lots of balls in the air at any one time is part and parcel of the Obama administration, so confusion reigns and measures that greatly affect this nation and its people get lost in the tumult and confusion of other events. Check out #8 of Saul Alinsky’s 12 Rules for Radicals used by Barack Obama’s as his guide when a community organizer in Chicago.
Such is the under-the-radar situation as the Obama administration is moving stealthily toward unprecedented control over private property under a massive expansion of its Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Water Act authority.
Since 1972, the Clean Water Act has protected our health and environment by reducing the pollution in streams, lakes, rivers, wetlands, and other waterways. According to the EPA website, a court ruling since the 1974 passage of the Clean Water Act has caused confusion about which waters and wetlands remain protected, making improvements to the Clean Water Act essential to clarify the jurisdiction necessary to reduce costs and minimize delays in the permit process. The achieved result will be to protect water that is so vital to public health, the environment, and the economy.
In other words, the parameters of the CWA are currently quite muddled. The proposed rule to expand the EPA’s authority under the Clean Water Act was prompted by a decision reached in March of 2013, Decker v. Northwest Environmental Defense Center. The nearly unanimous decision re-affirmed that federal agencies are granted a wide berth in interpretations of their own rules.
Last month Lou Dobbs and Andrew Napolitano of Fox Business and Fox News respectively, along with Republican lawmakers, accused the EPA of a “Power Grab.” Lou Dobbs on Fox Business claimed that the clarified parameters represented “unprecedented control over private property” — “maybe” extending to “mud puddles.” Legal analyst Andrew Napolitano branded the EPA’s Science Board study as “bogus” – merely a rationalization to “regulate all bodies of waste” and “control more behavior.”
The EPA’s Science Board study referred to above by Judge Andrew Napolitano — based on the extent to which small streams and wetlands connect to larger bodies of water downstream — claims that small streams, even those that only flow at certain times, “are connected to and have important effects on downstream waters. The wetlands are likewise similarly integrate, making them also subject to CWA protection.
The study, Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to Downstream Waters, contains more than 1,000 pieces of relevant peer reviewed Scientific literature. Regarding this draft study of the EPA’s Science Advisory Board, procedure calls for public comments to be submitted and public peer review meetings held before the end of this year.
Procedure, however, is being thrown overboard according to Chair of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, Representative Larmar Smith (R-Texas). For on the same day (November 12) the EPA submitted the proposed water rule to the White House for approval, the EPA provided Smith with the draft scientific assessment for peer review. This was but two day before November 14 when EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy testified before Rep. Smith’s House Science Committee.
As noted by Rep. Smith, an open peer review of the scientific basis for the new Water Rule should have happened before sending the EPA’s water rule to the White House for approval. After all, the proposed water rule would have a potential impact of more that $500 million in any one year on either the public or private sector.
A letter sent the first week of November by Rep. Smith, and his colleague, Subcommittee Chairman Chris Steward (R-Utah), to the Office of Management and Budget, expressed concerns that the EPA was “rushing forward, regardless of whether the science actually supports the rules.”
As expressed in the letter by Smith and Steward:
This rule could represent a dramatic expansion of EPA’s authority to include isolated wetlands, streams and ditches. Such unrestrained federal intrusion poses a serious threat to private property rights, state sovereignty and economic growth.
Just what can be done to stop this and other power grabs by the President and his administration? Not being a constitutional scholar the remedy must be left to others.
Notwithstanding, if the out-of-control EPA is allowed to get its way unchecked in rule-making by rubber stamping their predetermined regulatory agenda, its flouting of power will continue and will further violate this nation’s Constitution by ignoring its commitment to Congress and the American people.