Sep 9, 2014

A Dry Ditch is Not a ‘Navigable Waterway’

WATERS-FB

“Unnecessary regulations” are nearly synonymous with “bureaucracy,” but there are times when even the Washington bureaucracy is surprising. When the Supreme Court told the EPA that it only had jurisdiction over “navigable waterways,” thereby reducing the agency’s authority, the EPA responded by simply expanding the definition of “navigable waterways.”

The new rule proposed by the EPA is so vague and broad that it can designate almost any water, flowing or standing, as under federal jurisdiction. Rivers, lakes, washes, puddles, and ponds could all potentially be subject to onerous EPA regulations, whether the water is on public or private lands.

The potential damage to private property rights and the economy are not hard to imagine.

The EPA has already attempted such gross amplifications of authority even before this rule. In Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s home district only a few years ago, the EPA designated the aptly named Sandy Creek as a “Water of the U.S.,” subject to all the regulations and burdens of that designation. Though the creek had been dry for 30 years, the EPA still wanted it regulated and under federal jurisdiction. Only after several years and a lot of prodding from Congressman McCarthy’s home office did the EPA finally de-designated Sandy Creek.

Under the new rule, the EPA could once again re-designate Sandy Creek along with countless other dry creeks.

Representative Steve Southerland’s (FL-02) Waters of the U.S. Regulatory Overreach Protection Act protects people’s property and limits the economy damage the EPA can do by making clear what waterways the EPA has authority to regulate. The EPA should regulate only what the people allow it to regulate, not whatever it wants to.