July 29, 2010

Private Property Rights at Stake

The Clean Water Restoration Act (S.787) is a dangerous infringement on private property rights. It would require farmers and ranchers to obtain permits for common, everyday operations, like driving a tractor near an irrigation ditch or grazing cattle near a mud hole.

By The National Cattlemen's Beef Association
April 2009

What is the Clean Water Restoration Act?

Currently, waters under the jurisdiction of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) are defined as "navigable waters of the United States." Other waters are subject to regulation by individual states, which are better equipped to manage their own unique geographical concerns.

The Clean Water Restoration Act would remove the word "navigable" from the definition, thereby drastically expanding federal regulatory control over all wet areas. In addition, it would grant sweeping authority to regulate all “activities” affecting those waters.

This would amount to a massive land-grab by the government, not to mention an infringement on Americans’ constitutional rights to own and manage property without undue interference from the government.

Unprecedented Expansion of Federal Authority

The Clean Water Restoration Act for the first time would give the federal government broad power to regulate all waters, including:

* Ponds
* Small and intermittent streams
* Creek beds
* Drainage ditches
* Mud holes

All would be subject to federal regulation, including areas that only contain water during snow melts or the rainy season.

Reduces our Ability to Keep Important Waters Clean

Cattlemen don’t oppose efforts to keep our waters clean—in fact, we rely on clean sources of water to feed our animals and nurture our land.

The Clean Water Restoration Act would actually hamper the government’s ability to maintain clean waters. They are already struggling to handle a backlog of 15,000 to 20,000 permit requests.

At a time when our resources are already stretched thin, it is ridiculous to expand the government’s responsibility to mud holes and other wet areas with little to no environmental value to the public.

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