Oberstar's Proposal To Revise Clean Water Act Is More Than EPA Can Handle

NCPA Expert Says the Federal Government Already Mismanages Lands They Currently Regulate

Dallas (May 25, 2010) - Rep. James Oberstar's (D-Minn.) proposal to remove the word "navigable" from the 1972 Clean Water Act would be bad for private property, bad for the economy and ultimately bad for the environment, according to H. Sterling Burnett, Senior Fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis.

"Oberstar's proposal would virtually give the federal government carte blanche to control any and all state lands or private property that the feds deem to have water or wetlands," Burnett said. "The federal government should have no jurisdiction over waters, and more importantly, over occasional soggy lands or privately owned ponds, lakes and quarries that lie within the borders of a single state."

Instead of trying to overturn the decision of the 2001 Supreme Court ruling, which set the limits on the kinds of waterways the EPA can regulate, Congress should support the court, Burnett continued.

"Recent Supreme Court rulings finally began to reign in the federal government's oversight and control of wetlands," Burnett said, "so Congress should either leave matters where they lie, or, better yet, pass a law restricting federal control to strictly "navigable" waters that are explicitly created and controlled by the federal government through the Corp of Engineers or other agencies, and of waters such as lakes, streams and rivers that cross state borders."

Burnett points out that more than 60 percent of the public's national forests are at high risk of catastrophic wildfire due to federal mismanagement. The national parks continue to degenerate with billions of dollars of backlogs in improvements left unaccomplished and unfunded year after year, Burnett said.

"The federal government can't manage or maintain the lands they currently control, so they certainly shouldn't be allowed to seize power over even more land," Burnett said. "The federal government's failed management of public land does not inspire confidence that they will efficiently manage the hundreds of millions of acres that could fall under their control under a revised Clean Water Act."