Democrats aim to control every drop of water in the country, under the guise of dealing with pollution. A bill to “clarify the jurisdiction of the United States over waters of the United States” has been introduced in the Senate — S.787, the Clean Water Restoration Act. To read the text of this bill, we recommend using the Open Congress version, which allows you to post citizen comments. Alternatively, the Library of Congress copy is here.
The bill was introduced by Sen. Russell Feingold (D-WI). His remarks before the Senate on the occasion of introducing the bill are here. Draconian interpretation of government control of US waters in the earlier Clean Water Act had been somewhat limited by Supreme Court decisions. In his opening statement, Feingold made it clear that his purpose was to recover the Orwellian power that had been impaired by the judiciary by means of legislation:
Mr. President, today I am introducing legislation to restore Clean Water Act protections for the same waters that were covered by the Act prior to two recent divisive U.S. Supreme Court decisions.
WATERS OF THE UNITED STATES- The term ‘waters of the United States’ means all waters subject to the ebb and flow of the tide, the territorial seas, and all interstate and intrastate waters and their tributaries, including lakes, rivers, streams (including intermittent streams), mudflats, sandflats, wetlands, sloughs, prairie potholes, wet meadows, playa lakes, natural ponds, and all impoundments of the foregoing, to the fullest extent that these waters, or activities affecting these waters, are subject to the legislative power of Congress under the Constitution.
Congress justifies its power to meddle in every aspect of American life through the “commerce clause” in the US Constitution (Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3):
The Congress shall have Power … To regulate Commerce … among the several States….
The founding fathers only intended that Congress should provide a level playing field for interactions between and among the states. In stark contrast to this original intention stands the extension of “waters” to include “all … intrastate waters and their tributaries.” The language of this bill enables Congress to come onto a private family farm and dictate what a farmer can do with his duck pond, or even with his cistern, which might conceivably be emptied into a ditch that might eventually flow into an intermittent stream!
In short, Congress has the power to prevent any citizen from relying on natural sources of drinking, cooking, and bathing water, and water to sustain a home garden. This legislation, combined with the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009, means that every United States citizen may only eat and drink at the pleasure of the government.
Of course, most “reasonable” folk will assume that, although the government has this stranglehold on our lives, it will not actually be used for such a purpose. As German history shows, the extent of governmental social engineering depends on who is in power. Recall that Hitler was elected, and for a time, very popular. The more fundamental question is whether we are willing to give government such power over us, in the naive expectation that a government proven incapable of protecting us against food-borne salmonella can provide us with adequate food and water safety. Do we want to take responsibility for assuring our food and water safety ourselves, as informed consumers, or do we want to trust a failed bureaucracy to protect us, at the sacrifice of our fundamental freedom?