June 27, 2012 | LXXII, No. 13

Keeping the federal government out of our backyards

When the Clean Water Act was signed into law in 1972, the intent was clear - the federal government, working with the states, should ensure that our water quality is protected. Although this is a goal embraced by all Americans, the scope and implementation of federal regulations under this law has been the subject of controversy and litigation for decades.

Like so many other federal environmental laws, the Clean Water Act is well intentioned, but radical environmentalists continue their attempts to expand it far beyond what Congress intended — resulting in serious consequences for Western communities.

Most recently, the Obama Administration has proposed a drastic expansion of the federal government’s jurisdiction over our nation’s waters to cover every irrigation ditch and pond in the country. This was done through a proposed new “guidance” on how to implement the Clean Water Act — without any opportunity for public comment from the American people and by going around Congress.

No good will come of the federal government regulating every ditch and mud puddle in the country. Quite the opposite, the result would be disastrous. If this so-called “guidance” is enforced, the only guarantee is that there will be more paperwork, more bureaucratic red tape, and federal micromanagement of hardworking taxpayers that will hinder job creation — not better water quality.

For this reason, last year, I joined 169 of my colleagues in writing to the Obama Administration in strong opposition to moving forward with this federal water power grab. Earlier this month, I joined a bipartisan majority of my colleagues in supporting efforts to defund any effort to implement this “guidance” during the upcoming fiscal year. I also cosponsored a bipartisan bill, H.R. 4965, which will prohibit federal agencies from implementing this policy that will not benefit water quality.

Water is a precious commodity, especially to those of us in the West. It is a necessary resource for many activities including agriculture, energy, transportation and recreation. Our economy and way of life cannot afford to have the federal government cavalierly or casually claim control over all waterways without scientific justification and a direct link to an overriding national public purpose. I will continue to fight against any federal water grab - from President Obama or from within Congress.

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