It is likely that Republicans understand that nothing frightens ignorant Americans more than warning them that some group is coming to take something from them. Whether it is ISIS coming for their freedoms, President Obama coming for their guns, or the federal government coming to seize their land, Republicans use fear of loss to advance their agenda. One will never hear Republicans warn Americans the oil, chemical, or logging industry is coming for their access to clean water, and instead resort to fear-mongering to protect their favorite special interests’ blatant disregard for a basic and necessary human right. One might be inclined to believe that no-one in America is against clean water, but this is America where the rights of corporate oil, mining, and logging interests trump the rights of citizens access to clean water.
Over the past couple of months Republicans and their conservative cohorts have ramped up opposition to a “proposed” new rule the Environmental Protection Agency has taken eight years to devise. The rule is still in the public commenting stage and was created to comply and clear up ambiguity in federal Clean Water Act regulations as a result of a series of Supreme Court decisions. Republicans have claimed the new rules are a devious EPA scheme to seize private citizens’ land, and issued letter to the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers citing their opposition to specific details in the EPA’s proposal that do not exist.
In the Senate, Republicans introduced legislation banning the EPA and the Army Corps from ever moving forward again to protect Americans’ clean drinking water. The bill’s main sponsor, Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) said, “After already calling on the EPA and Army Corps to withdraw the proposed rule, I want to make sure that the expansion of regulatory jurisdiction over ‘Waters of the United States’ is shelved for good. This straightforward legislation prohibits the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and the secretary of the Army from finalizing the rule or ever trying a similar regulation in the future.”
In the House, Republicans held a series of hearings on the proposed water rule to highlight fierce opposition from the prospective sources of pollution in the stone industry, energy industry, and developers. They did not, however, invite any Americans to advocate for clean drinking water or provide observers with the proposed new rules for clearly obvious reasons. Instead of reading the proposed EPA rules defining which sources of drinking water the Clean Water Act can protect, they sent a letter to the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers detailing precisely the opposite of the proposed rule’s intent.
They wrote, “The rule would place features such as ditches, ephemeral drainages, ponds (natural or man-made, prairie potholes, seeps, flood plains, and other occasionally or seasonally wet areas under federal control.” According to the rules still in the public commenting stage, the Clean Water Act specifically cites the features the Republican lawmakers listed as not identified as “water” under regulation by the Clean Water Act. However, Republicans are protecting their favorite polluters in the oil, chemical, mining, and logging industry with a tried and true tactic to prevent the EPA from protecting Americans’ access to clean drinking water; fear mongering and claim the Environmental Protection Agency is on a “land grab” crusade using the Clean Water Act.
On one conservative website there was a typical fright-fest about Obama’s EPA exercising its “unfettered right” to seize private land. The screed warned that the EPA will “take over your private property and tell you that you can’t build your dream home. But you still have to pay taxes on the land even though you can never use it. The most frightening thing about the EPA’s over-reach is that they have found a way to exercise eminent domain in a way they never have to buy the land they seize. The conservatives relating a story about the EPA seizing land using a rule that is still in the ‘public comment’ period for another month before going it can be implemented the.
They claim an Idaho couple wanted to build a home on their own half-acre lot, but the “proposed” EPA rule empowered the agency to swoop in, evict the owners, and forbid them from “building or even putting up a pup tent” for at least three years; and a hundred-thousand dollar fee.” The conservative site also claims the rule that has not been enacted already has “tens of thousands of Americans succumbing to the wishes of the federal government without recourse, including the EPA issuing as many as 3,000 compliance orders.”
Remember, the proposed rule has taken eight years to develop to come into compliance with “a series of Supreme Court rulings,” and the EPA is still accepting public comments for about another month. However, that has not stopped a conservative fright crusade warning Americans their homes and lands are in jeopardy from a ruthless federal agency plot to seize Americans private property, or destroy the oil, mining, and logging industry depending on which Republican is fear-mongering.
Republicans are well aware the new rule is not a “land grab” as their fear-mongering asserts, or an expansion of the 40-year old Clean Water Act; but facts or truth is never a consideration when Republicans attack the EPA for their campaign donors. Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe specifically told the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee that the new rule will actually “reduce the scope of waters covered under the Clean Water Act compared to the existing regulations on the books,” and that “it would not assert jurisdiction over any type of waters not previously protected over the past 40 years.” The only reason there are new rules is because there have been two Supreme Court rulings that upheld the constitutionality of the EPA protecting Americans’ access to clean drinking water, and simply clarifies, according to the SCOTUS rulings, which bodies of water the EPA can legally protect from polluters.
The EPA is very clear, and forthcoming, about the proposed rule’s intent to identify, per the Supreme Court, which American waters it can protect from polluters according to the Clean Water Act. There are absolutely no prohibitions on; agriculture using pesticides or herbicides, any kind of manmade or natural pond, no oversight over any groundwater in the nation, or ditches, prairie potholes, or seasonal mud puddles that appear to be of particular concern to Republicans. However, the Clean Water Act does protect lakes, up and downstream tributaries leading to lakes and rivers. and of course lakes and coastal waters; all targets of the mining, chemical, and oil and logging industry for dumping and spilling pollutant with impunity.
Despite the Clean Water Act keeping drinking water safe, the oil, mining, and logging industry have spent “years and millions-of-dollars to pollute Americans’ water with veritable impunity. Of course they tasked Republicans to go to any length to allow them to continue unabated and they reverted to their typical tactic; fear mongering. One would think that after a rash of chemical, oil, and toxic waste spills in lakes and rivers this year alone, Americans would be outraged at Republicans for opposing a common-sense rule according to two Supreme Court decisions. However, Americans have showed they are apt to respond to fear instead of survival and it is likely why Republicans will garner plenty of support to stop the EPA and the Clean Water Act.