Clean Water Restoration Act Gains Detractors

by | Jun 17, 2009

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wetland-image2Advocacy groups representing utilities, industry, agriculture and landowners are mounting an offensive against the proposed Clean Water Restoration Act, which is coming up for committee vote in the Senate.

The act, S 787, would broaden regulation of the nation’s waterways, most notably removing the requirement that regulated waterways be “navigable.”

In so doing, the government would essentially be able to regulate everything from standing water in floodplains to creeks that run behind business and residences.

In a letter to Senate Environment and Public Works Chair Barbara Boxer and ranking member James Inhofe, the American Farm Bureau Federation said that the proposed law would “extend to all water — anywhere from farm ponds, to storm water retention basins, to roadside ditches, to desert washes, to streets and gutters, even to a puddle of rainwater,” stated the letter. “For the first time in the 36-year history of the act, activities that have no impact on actual rivers and lakes would be subject to full federal regulation.”

Agricultural operations would be subject to civil lawsuits that currently are not possible, the Farm Bureau stated. If un-navigable waterways are added, businesses and farms would be subject to civil lawsuits from organizations and individuals who don’t like the way the business or farm is using property, reports Wilson County News.

The Heritage Foundation calls the act “troubled waters for property owners.”

The foundation says, “The CWRA is an invitation for federal regulators (or environmental organizations filing lawsuits) to shut down any use of land that they don’t like so long as there is a little water somewhere in the vicinity. If the past is any guide, this law will be used to stop a tremendous amount of economic activity.”

The act has the support of conservation groups including Ducks Unlimited, the National Wildlife Federation, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, and Trout Unlimited, states

The Clean Water Restoration Act calls for regulation over “all waters subject to the ebb and flow of the tide, the territorial seas, and all interstate and intrastate waters and their tributaries, including lakes, rivers, streams (including intermittent streams),” including “mudflats, sandflats, wetlands, sloughs, prairie potholes, wet meadows, playa lakes, natural ponds….”

The act may come up for vote in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee June 18.

The National Center for Public Policy Research has created a Web site with links about the act.

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