Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is set to strike the greatest blow to private property rights the modern era has seen, through a proposed rule that will radically expand the EPA jurisdiction by placing virtually all land and water under the heavy regulatory hand of the federal government.
For years, the EPA’s regulatory jurisdiction has been limited to the “navigable waters” of the United States, a term that has always been understood to include only large bodies of water capable of serving as pathways for interstate commerce. Regulation of all other waters was, rightly, left to the states.
The Hill reported that the government unhappy with the limited scope of the jurisdiction given to it by Congress, the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers have simply redefined the meaning of “navigable waters” in an extraordinary way, to include virtually every body of water in the nation right down to the smallest of streams, farm ponds and ditches.
The result of this startling grab is that virtually every property owner in the nation will now be subject to the unpredictable, unsound and often Byzantine regulatory regimes of the EPA. Worse yet, the states are cut out of the loop altogether, leaving landowners to lobby distant federal bureaucrats when the system wrongs them — and wrong them it will.
Simply put, the proposed rule is breathtaking in its overreach, and flatly contrary to the will of Congress, which, with the passing of the Clean Water Act, decided that the states should plan the development and use of local land and water resources.