Defend Property Rights Against EPA 'Navigable Waters' Overreach

By:  Ann Shibler
Defend Property Rights Against EPA 'Navigable Waters' Overreach

Senator Rand Paul has introduced a bill to rein in the EPA's regulatory overreach.

The notorious Clean Water Act of 1972 has been used by both the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to curtail mining, control land use in agricultural zones, stop expansion of energy companies, and bring an end to construction projects. As The New American Senior Editor William F. Jasper stated, “The ‘navigable waters’ authority is one of the many dangerous avenues that have allowed the agency to engage in enormous unconstitutional assaults on the rights of property owners. Farmers, ranchers, homeowners, business owners, and municipalities have been forced to abide by costly, and sometimes impossible-to-achieve, EPA mandates that have little or nothing to do with protecting the environment and even less to do with exercising legitimate federal authority.”

Legislation introduced by Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) would target these abuses by the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers. The Defense of Environment and Property Act of 2012, S. 2122, with seven cosponsors so far, would rein in the EPA's regulatory overreach over "navigable waters" on private property that has destroyed the American dream of home building for many Americans. A companion bill will soon be introduced in the House.

"Environmental protection must be balanced with the fundamental American right to private property,” Sen. Paul has said, adding, "It is time to bring common sense to federal water policy, and I do so on behalf of the thousands of property owners across the country who have been met with aggression from the EPA and Army Corps for wetlands issues." You can listen to Senator Paul describe these problems and his solution in more detail by clicking on the video below which provides an audio of Rand Paul's 45-minute Tele-Townhall conference call on March 13.

From Sen. Paul’s website are these provisions in the Defense of Environment and Property Act of 2012:

  • Redefine "navigable waters" to explicitly clarify that waters must actually be navigable in fact, or "permanent, standing, or continuously flowing bodies of water that form geographical features commonly known as streams, oceans, rivers and lakes that are connected to waters that are navigable-in-fact."
  • Excludes ephemeral or intermittent streams -- the streams that sometimes form when rain falls -- from federal jurisdiction.
  • Restrains the EPA and the Army Corps from regulating or "interpreting" the definition of a navigable water without Congressional authorization.
  • Protects the rights of states to have primary authority over the land and water within their borders.
  • Prohibits federal agents from entering private property without the express consent of the landowner. [Emphasis added.]
  • Requires the government to pay double the value of the land to any landowner whose property value is diminished by a wetlands designation.

Passage of this bill would result in less regulatory heavy-handedness by the EPA and the Corps of Engineers in their dealings with property owners and businesses by ending their authority over truly non-navigable waters. However, this bill is stuck in the Senate Committee for Environment and Public Works, chaired by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) who has a pattern of opposing any attempts to rein in the EPA’s out-of-control powers.  Here is a list of the Senate Majority and Minority leaders of the Committee that you can call immediately and ask for their support to get this bill reported out of committee and passed by the Senate:

Senate Majority Members
Barbara Boxer  (202) 224-3553
Max Baucus  (202) 224-2651
Thomas R. Carper  (202) 224-2441
Frank R. Lautenberg (202) 224-3224 
Benjamin L. Cardin  (202) 224-4524
Bernard Sanders  (202) 224-5141
Sheldon Whitehouse  (202) 224-2921
Tom Udall  (202) 224-6621
Jeff Merkley   (202) 224-3753
Kirsten Gillibrand (202) 224-4451
Senate Minority Members
James M. Inhofe (202) 224-4721
David Vitter (202) 224-4623
John Barrasso 202-224-6441
Jeff Sessions (202) 224-4124
Mike Crapo (202) 224-6142
Lamar Alexander (202) 224-4944
Mike Johanns (202) 224-4224
John Boozman 202) 224-4843  

When graded from a constitutional perspective, this is an A+ bill. It should help tremendously to rein in the EPA and the Corps of Engineer’s aggressive regulatory tactics that harm American businesses and families.

Urge your Representative and Senators to cosponsor, support, promote and pass this important bill today by sending them a pre-written, editable message.

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