It sounds like a stretch, I know, but stay with me on this. Currently, there is a bill in the Senate called the Clean Water Restoration Act (S. 787) to change the wording of the Federal Water Polution Control Act of 1972 to include both navigable and unnavigable waters on public and private lands. This is being reported as supported by sportsmen across the country for cleaning up all of our waters everywhere. The problem is these sportsmen are a group supported by over twenty unions including the AFL-CIO.
The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership is a group of activists whose mission is stated here:
The TRCP is a coalition of hunting, fishing and conservation organizations, labor unions and individual grassroots partners who represent the wide spectrum of America’s outdoor community. We are dedicated to the foresighted stewardship of America’s landscape, helping to expand fish and wildlife habitat and increasing public access to quality hunting and fishing.
This “increasing public access to quality hunting and fishing” apparently includes private lands, regardless of the owners rights. If they have their way, owners won’t have rights on their own property. All waters will be public and thus open for public hunting and fishing. According to the TRCP president and CEO, George Cooper, they are very happy with the additions in Obama’s budget which affects them including climate change and the Open Fields program.
“But we’re disappointed that the President’s budget also includes cuts and restrictions on other programs aimed at conserving habitat on private lands and encouraging property owners to open their lands to hunters and anglers. As the budget goes forward, we look forward to working with the administration and our allies in the House and Senate to ensure that sportsmen programs across the board receive necessary funding.”
These people are trying to get their hands on private property, something protected by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Admittedly, their argument sounds great. They are just concerned about quality and quantity of land and water, right? They want freedom for hunters and fishermen to access wherever they desire to go. That is where the Clean Water Restoration Act comes in.
On May 20, 2009, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, received a letter from the White House in response to her inquiry for instructions pertaining to the Clean Water Restoration Act. The letter is signed by Nancy Sutley-Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, Lisa Jackson-Administrator Environmental Protection Agency, Terrence “Rock” Salt-Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works), Tom Vilsack-Secretary Department of Agriculture, and Ken Salazar Secretary Department of the Interior. The first directive states that:
It is essential that the Clean Water Act provide broad protection of the Nation’s waters, consistent with full Congressional authority under the Constitution.
I’m not sure where the Constitution addresses the power of the federal government over water on private property. I’d like to see how they’re justifying that. They also want to make sure there is:
a carefully crafted statutory exemption for “prior converted cropland” would be useful to both farmers and Federal agencies.