In what critics are describing as a government land grab, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a change Tuesday to the Clean Water Act that would give it regulatory authority over temporary wetlands and waterways. The proposal immediately sparked concerns that the regulatory power could extend into seasonal ponds, streams and ditches, including those on private property.
"The ... rule may be one of the most significant private property grabs in U.S. history," said Louisiana Sen. David Vitter, the top Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. The EPA proposal would apply pollution regulations to the country's so-called "intermittent and ephemeral streams and wetlands" -- which are created during wet seasons, or simply after it rains, but are temporary. At issue is whether the smaller streams and wetlands are indeed part of the "waters of the United States."
Vitter accused the EPA of "picking and choosing" its science while trying to "take another step toward outright permitting authority over virtually any wet area in the country." He also warned the proposed change, if approved, would open the door for more environmental groups suing private property owners.
Not only could this result in serious damage to our economy, it dramatically expands the EPA’s jurisdictional reach. The rule could effectively give the federal government nearly total control over access to lands and control new development. It would in affect allow the federal government to have power over your land and what you as a private citizen can do on your land. We have already seen the EPA act as a rule maker, a prosecutor who operates under the defendant having the burden of proof, the jury and the judge. The EPA has believed it is the agent for a dictator, and this rule would bring that belief to fruition.