Once again, we are presented with yet another version of a bill pertaining to clean water that goes far beyond protecting our waterways; it would end local control of much acreage that is privately held.
Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee says the aim of his newly introduced legislation, H.R. 5088: America’s Commitment to Clean Water Act, is simply to restore the Clean Water Act of 1972 to its original intent. Unfortunately, his new bill extends regulations far beyond the original bill.
Oberstar’s H.R. 5088 would explicitly replace every occurrence of “navigable waters” with “waters of the United States” in the “Federal Water Pollution Control Act” of 1972. In addition, this bill would define “waters of the United States” in an amazingly expansive way to explicitly provide federal jurisdiction over “streams (including intermittent streams), mudflats, sandflats, wetlands, sloughs, prairie potholes, wet meadows, playa lakes, or natural ponds.”
This would grant the federal government and its various regulatory bureaucracies control over millions and millions of acres of privately owned land, from farms and ranches to small land owners who happen to have ponds, depressions, prairie holes, and low-lying areas where water collects.
Well beyond the scope of water, the measure would also extend federal authority over prior converted cropland, says the American Farm Bureau Federation. This proposal hidden in the bill would give the federal regulators control over an additional 53 million acres of land.
H.R. 5088 is currently sitting in the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment which contains 21 Democratic and 15 Republican members. Pressure should be brought to bear on these 36 people so that the bill doesn’t make it out onto the House floor for a vote. However, it would be wise to contact your congressmen to let them know of your opposition to expanded federal authority over those drops of water that happen to occupy the same square inch.
Woody Wood and
Your friends at The John Birch Society