And lo, he of the name Obama shall have dominion over all of the birds of the air and the fish of the sea and the water that collects in the potholes after a rainstorm.
President Obama’s administration on Wednesday claimed dominion over all of America’s streams, creeks, rills, ditches, brooks, rivulets, burns, tributaries, criks, wetlands — perhaps even puddles — in a sweeping move to assert unilateral federal authority.
The Environmental Protection Agency, along with the Army Corps of Engineers, says it has the authority to control all waterways within the United States — and will exercise that authority.
“We’re finalizing a clean water rule to protect the streams and the wetlands that one in three Americans rely on for drinking water. And we’re doing that without creating any new permitting requirements and maintaining all previous exemptions and exclusions,” EPA head Gina McCarthy told reporters Wednesday.
If that sounds suspiciously like they’re claiming they’ve done nothing in hopes that you won’t notice they’ve made a massive departure from the status quo, well congratulations, you’re catching on. The EPA has the ability to apply the Clean Water Act to “navigable waterways.” To you, this probably means a waterway you can sail a small boat on, or a jetski, or, in the event this is the mid-19th century and we’re trapped in the wilderness with only the strength of our hearts and our talking animal friends to help us survive, a hollowed out tree trunk. The EPA defines “navigable waterway” as “literally any standing water.” As the US Supreme Court thinks that’s overkill, the EPA is moving to define its control a little better – by being less specific about what they actually lord over.
And thank heavens. We were once in danger of the EPA exercising its regulatory power over any ditch and divot that held a slight amount of water for any given time. Now, we’re definitely in danger of that. So things are improving.
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