By Gene Hall
All fans of property rights and reasonable environmental regulation can cheer at a recent vote in the U.S. House. This week, by a vote of 262-152, the House voted to gut a proposed EPA rule to change the Clean Water Act (CWA.)
The CWA has always given EPA the authority to regulate the navigable waters of the U.S. Once this ill-advised rule is implemented, navigable means mud puddles, ditches and places that aren’t wet most of the time—like a “low spot” in a farmer’s field. That means every foot of ground and drop of water in the U.S. That means aggressive fines of many thousands of dollars a day. It also means lengthy and costly permit fights with regulators who may not care if your crop is at risk.
Of course, this common sense legislation is not going anywhere in the Senate and the White House has promised a veto if it did. The “green left” has too much leverage in the Democratic Party to think anything else. However, the impressive tally on the vote, including 35 Democrats, is important. There will be a bipartisan effort to overturn the rule in Congress at some point. You can also count on court challenges.
The Supreme Court has already said no to the EPA’s rule change. So has Congress. This time, EPA is using the old “getting forgiveness is easier than getting permission” routine. It’s a statist plan to go right ahead with a land use and control scheme that is the green left’s wildest fantasy come true. I think it’s a terrible idea. So does a bipartisan majority of the U.S. House.