Brief of the Week June 22, 2009

NEW CLEAN WATER ACT A POWER GRAB: That’s what Sen. Jim Inhofe (R.-Okla.) told HUMAN EVENTS last week, noting that the Feingold Clean Water Restoration Act (S. 787) would “erase the distinction between federal and state jurisdiction over waters and impose federal regulation over anything that impounds water” such as private ditches, lakes, and dry streambeds that occasionally get wet. Enacted in 1972, the Clean Water Act (CWA) lost powers of regulation over certain non-navigable waters as a result of Supreme Court decisions that came down in 2001 and 2006. Inhofe, ranking Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, warned that enactment of the Feingold revision would in effect neuter those two Supreme Court decisions and “affect local planning and zoning, storm water management, economic development, the issuance of permits, farming and private property rights.” Rep. James Oberstar (D.-Minn.) has introduced H.R. 2421, the House version of the Clean Water Restoration Act, which one legal expert has warned would push “the limits of federal power to an extreme not matched by any other law, probably in the history of this country.” Already groups ranging from the American Farm Bureau Federation to the National Association of Counties have joined forces to attempt to stop the measure