Lawyers are wordsmiths. Lawyers may know little about science, art, or theology, but the legal profession requires that lawyers understand the logic of words. That perhaps explains the latest piece of chicanery now working its way through Congress.
Earlier this week came news of the decision by the power-hungry Environmental Protection Agency that carbon dioxide, which all animals and people exhale with every breath, amounts to an “endangerment” of human health. Now comes Rep. James Oberstar, Minnesota Democrat and chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, to try to match a Senate committee that already advanced a bill to radically expand the scope of federal water regulations. Last week, Mr. Oberstar’s staff repeated his determination to do likewise by year’s end, with a bill misnamed the Clean Water Restoration Act (CWRA).
The Senate version of the legislation looks deceptively like a minor change. As confirmed in several recent U.S. Supreme Court cases, federal regulatory authority currently extends only to waters that are navigable or perhaps directly connected to navigable waters. The Senate bill would remove the word “navigable.” The significance of the dropped word is that any backyard fish pond or birdbath, any swimming pool or even a piece of low ground that is prone to forming puddles after rains, could be subject to the dictates of bureaucrats at the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers. (from EDITORIAL: Leave our fish ponds alone)
Just how big a power grab is this? Imagine you live in an area with a rare mosquito. One week you forget to drain your birdbath. Moreover, you have also forgotten to remove the leaves from the gutters that wrap around the edge of your roof. Making his rounds and inspecting your property, your friendly, local neighborhood EPA rep is trained to notice such things. In fact, he observes that you have a fine crop of wigglers in both your birdbath and in your gutters. Smiling joyfully, he then introduces you to the new joys home ownership. He begins by congratulating you on your contribution to the environment. Then he politely issues a warning. Leave the precious wigglers alone. Under the penalty of law, you must leave both your birdbath and your gutters alone.
Because Humans are not an endangered species, this holy and anointed agent of the EPA will undoubtedly have less concern for you and your family than the endangered mosquitos. So if these mosquitos bite and carry disease, you can count upon him not to adjust his priorities. Instead, to ensure the survival of the mosquitos, he may suggest that you bare your flesh.
Our president and the Democratic majority in Congress have a mission. They are out to save the world. All that matters is what the Supreme Court says is legal. Moreover, they are not greatly concerned about the Court. What the Supreme Court says is legal they can predetermine by selecting the “right” judges.
Fortunately, some people understand just how precious water can be. In our nation, these folks reside primarily in the western states. There will be a fight.
In a letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., members of the House and Senate Western Caucuses cited concerns over job loss and regulatory overreach in expressing their strong objections to the Clean Water Restoration Act (CWRA) (S. 787).
The letter, signed by 11 Western senators and 17 Western House members, stated, “In the West … where the frontier spirit of smaller government and individual liberty are still sacred traditions, there is overwhelming objection to this bill. We strongly object to any attempt to move this legislation, either as a stand alone bill or as an attachment to a bill, in the Senate or House of Representatives. More specifically, we cannot imagine any bill so important that we could support it with the Clean Water Restoration Act attached.” (continued in Western lawmakers oppose CWRA)
Nonetheless, consider the boldness of this grab for power. Where in the Constitution did we give Congress this kind of power? Do they care?
Our elected officials swear to uphold and defend the Constitution. Yet they seem indifferent to that oath. When did we start allowing such to represent us? Why? If we have forgotten the importance of honesty, that should concern us most of all.