The Environmental Protection Agency proposed a rule Tuesday that would give the federal government regulatory authority over millions of acres of wetlands and about 2 million miles of streams.Part of the trick here, of course, is that not only is EPA laying claim to basically anything that can be construed as a natural path for water (there are certain exceptions, but since EPA will have to judge them, we can effectively rule those out), they are laying a level of claim on whatever land uses are taking place on that land,
The proposal, which is subject to a 90-day comment period slated to begin in a few weeks, would lead to stricter pollution controls on some of these areas and aims to resolve a long-running legal battle over how to apply the Clean Water Act to the nation’s intermittent and ephemeral streams and wetlands.
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The question of which isolated streams and wetlands qualify for protection under the Clean Water Act has been in dispute for a decade. The Supreme Court has issued two decisions, and the George W. Bush administration issued guidance in 2003 and 2008 limiting the scope of the act. The Obama administration delayed issuing a rule on the matter during its first term in part because of fierce objections from business interests.
All ephemeral and intermittent streams, and the wetlands that are connected or next to them, will be subject to federal oversight under the proposed rule. The agency is asking for public input on whether to require federal permits for a group of “other waters,” mainly wetlands such as those in the prairie pothole region.
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About 60 percent of the miles making up U.S. streams only flow seasonally, or after rain.
As I see it, the EPA has effectively invited itself to manage all the lands in the United States.