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Another assault on clean water

Post in 'The Green Room' started by webbie, Jun 6, 2007.

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  1. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Many people have a hard time believing that the anti-environmental policies and the rollbacks of existing clean air, water and efficiency laws are the modus operandi of the current administration. Well, here is another one for you!

    --------------------
    By Lisa Lambert

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The landmark U.S. law to fight water pollution will now apply only to bodies of water large enough for boats to use, and their adjacent wetlands, and will not automatically protect streams, the U.S. government said on Tuesday.

    Environmental groups said they fear the new policy will muddy the purpose of the federal Clean Water Act and put many smaller bodies of water at risk. Democrats in Congress have introduced legislation mandating protection of creeks, estuaries and other watersheds.
    ---------------------

    This is a BIG DEAL because most waterways (check your local rivers) are not big enough to use boats. Now those waterways are not subject to the clean water laws!

    This administration is now becoming as famous for "rollbacks" as Wal-Mart. In all seriousness, this kind of stuff clearly shows that there is no conservation in conservatism.....despite the claims of the candidates at last nights GOP debate. It's more of the same - allowing business to pollute unmolested.

    Since they are using boats as the measurement, I wonder if a canoe counts? (I can assure you it does not).

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  2. mayhem

    mayhem Minister of Fire

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    I'd like to know how a "boat" is defined too...I hope its not the Love Boat.
  3. Charlie Z

    Charlie Z New Member

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    Sometimes, you just need to break 36 million eggs
    The demarcation of waters controlled by the federal government is an issue older than Clean Air Act. The issue is one of land use and property rights and the extent the fed can encroach on them.

    Bajillions of acres of private property are rather arbitrarily in the swing on this decision. There are more accurate ways to legislate pollution control than land confiscation. Most are already on the books.

    A rivulet on your property can be declared federally protected - with the precision and accuracy that federal agencies are legendary - and "X" portion of your property will be declared unuseble. "Sorry 'bout that. We moved the boundary and took away the use of your land. Keep paying your taxes on Our land and have a nice day."

    It's impressive how something as complex as property use rights can be presented so simply and innocently.

    Your comrade,

    - Josef

    PS - It was so much easier in the '30s.
  4. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    The definition is navigable waterways.....

    Yes, and however "simple" the clean air and clean water acts are, they are largely responsible for a pretty amazing step forward in our air and water quality over the last 30 years.

    As far as X portion being declared unusable, that is very interesting and you can find out a lot about that by studying the history of Florida. Property rights end when you decide to build on land that either floats away or makes it do your waste matter runs downstream and affects others property rights.

    We can debate libertarianism, but being as it is the Green Room, my contention is that taking laws that WORKED and rolling them back at the request of industry (turns out that mines and such do a BIG job polluting streams) is pure folly....and, if it is no, at least those taking that position should not label themselves as conservationists. If property rights trumps all, simply say it and then we will let the voters decide what they want their children to drink and breathe.

    BTW, a vast amount of the controls on water and wet lands/building, etc. is with the states and the local communities. At least that is the deal here in Ma. - We have local conservation commissions that take their cue from the state and delineate the wetlands. After watching the spring flooding this year, I can assure you there is a method behind the madness.

    Here are some nice areas over 1,000 feet from a little "rivulet", which you can usually walk across and cannot even float a canoe.

    Attached Files:

  5. Charlie Z

    Charlie Z New Member

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    Sometimes, you just need to break 36 million eggs
    Your comments are incoherent, but the jumping and bouncing show a need to augment my message.

    It's not a Bush 'assault' (he supports extending the Act's coverage) and 'boats' really don't have anything to do with the issue. The Army Corps of Engineers is implementing a boundary definition applied by the Supreme Court.

    The Post describes the situation reasonably well:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/02/21/AR2006022101808.html

    Also, it is about extending - not reducing - the Clean Water Act beyond it's original "Navigable waters and adjoining shoreline" coverage. For decades, the jurisdiction crept inland through successful land-use lawsuits from environmental groups against ranchers, farmers and developers that were far from 'navigable' waters.

    The Court finally stopped that interpretation and sent it back to the lower courts and Congress to define.

    - Josef

    "Misinformation these days is almost as good as the good old days."
  6. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Ah, I get it. All the news media and opinions and environmentalists are wrong once again!

    "WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The landmark U.S. law to fight water pollution will now apply only to bodies of water large enough for boats to use, and their adjacent wetlands, and will not automatically protect streams, the U.S. government said on Tuesday."

    To the untrained eye, that appears to refer to BOATS.

    "In effect, the EPA and the Corps are taking their field staff and the public out to the woods, blindfolding them, spinning them in circles, telling them to 'go west,' and calling that guidance," complained Jon Devine, a senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

    The EPA's new policy does not offer clear instructions to scientists in the field on how to protect surface waters, Devine said, and would eliminate protections for many streams. He also said the case-by-case decisions would inspire an onslaught of lawsuits and public confusion"


    I'm getting the real news picture now!

    :coolgrin:

    As to the beneficiaries, as per the article it is listed in the article as builders, developers and the like - and the case in question concerned a guy who filled in 54 acres of wetlands without a permit (to develop it), those parcels "one is close to the Pine River, a tributary of Lake Huron, and two are wetlands that drain into creeks that drain into two other rivers that flow into navigable waters."

    OK, so these are the new definitions....I can now poop into the stream that runs downhill to your town, as long as boats cannot come up the stream. It's as if thee people have redefined the old maxim that "chit runs downhill" and the science which shows that little streams run into big rivers. The narrow definition assumes that big water just materializes out of nowhere.

    In a country where it is estimated that 70% of the fresh water sources are heavily polluted, it is my stance that going backwards is the wrong move.

    One place where I may be mistaken is that the article says the GW administration is against the new definition. However, let's look at the justices who voted for it and see who they are:
    "A plurality of the court -- Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas -- said the Corps' definition of waters that they were designated to protect was too broad and therefore flawed."

    Ah, the same old rat pack who never saw a business (or a polluter) than they didn't like!
  7. Charlie Z

    Charlie Z New Member

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    Sometimes, you just need to break 36 million eggs
    I'm losing count of the number of conspirators involved.

    It's just an old law. It's intent and context was obvious for the '70s, when major work had to be done in coastal and river regions.

    If you want to extend its jurisdication to meet today's needs, extend it -- that's the message from the Court (to Congress). When you bend existing law, it becomes a bad law, regardless of good intentions.

    The jackass developer filling a swamp is wrong, but that isn't the question - weaseling the Act to include his acreage is, it being 20 miles from anything resembling 'navigable waters and adjoining shoreline'. The case, regardless of your wild political posturing, shows the arbitrary use and abuse of the law.

    Having worked at the SCUS a couple years, I am in awe of the justices. Regardless of the party labels they wear, they are a very independent and balanced lot. You haven't a clue.

    There is good intent in your concern, but the wild, unsupportable arguments undermine the cause and weaken your position.
  8. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Thomas and Scalia are balanced.........?

    If they were independent and balanced, it would just be coincidence when they voted as a block. So there are just as fair, balanced and independent as our congresspeople, who for some strange reason seem to 99% of the time vote with their party. Any basic study of human nature and math would say that if you take hundreds of people from all over the political spectrum (even within their parties), and put a question in front of them, that there would be large amounts of crossover from one side to the other, etc. - but there isn't. And with Gore v Bush, the Supremes have proven they are nothing more than pols.....nothing more than humans who pay back the person who brought them to the dance.

    While you think I haven't a clue, the odds of Pat Buchannan getting 3,000 votes in Palm Beach were MANY billion to one, and the odds of anyone else on the planet having OJ's dna is about 3 billion to one. Statistics (and votes) do matter, and having looked at those votes it is my conclusion that these people are not independent or balanced.....not that anyone tells them how to vote, just that they are pre-programmed.
  9. keyman512us

    keyman512us Member

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    Well this is yet another good debate that hopefully will stay "civil" and hopefully not end up closed because it gets "to far out of hand".
    I'm hearing two good sides to the argument but...unfortunately, more than likely it is in vain.
    At risk of taking some flak...the landmark acts enabled in the 1970's are terribly out-dated. Out-dated becuase they only scratched the surface. Roll the hands of time forward to present day...and it is a hopeless cause when you figure in all the different "interests involved. The original clean water act was adopted at a time when little was "understood" about the "bigger picture". It was definately needed at a time when some rivers (The Nashua river in Fitchburg MA for example) "changed colors daily" and some rivers actually caught fire (the Ohio River?).
    Those fighting to defend wetlands (which do need some degree of federal protection IMHO) are trying to use the clean water act as a tool.... which it was not designed for.
    Unfortunately the way our capitilist (another outdated idea) country works, where politics, big business,special interests and everything in between get together to "enact legislation" it often times resembles the equivalent of an orgy of wild boars...with about the same productive end results. As long as the average Joe regards wetlands as "wastelands" only worthy of "developement" there is no hope of protection, let alone legislation. Sad but true. Idiots like GW and his crew outta stick to massacre of 4 inch scrub brush with his toy Echo powered pruning shears on the weekends. The majority of politicians are from the states that "have no wetlands". Someone from Texas, Arizona or South Dakota are not going to appreciate the scope of the argument as say someone from the New England area, the UP, or the Pacific Northwest. I know I'm probably sounding like a Militant decipel of the Sierra club or Greenpeace more than someone who has gone hunting for deer or moose... Be that as it may I believe wetlands need to be protected from the idiots around me whether they be a neighbor across town or "my so called elected officials". Attitudes over the last 50 or 100 years have only progressed from "Hey let's fill this in with a trash dump" to "We got this beautifull un-touched, un-develeoped area...let's make it a 'Vinyl Village'..." Wetlands deserve as much protection as the old faithfull geyser...but it ain't gonna happen. Charlie...That link to the Washington Post you posted only further illustrates the point wetlands need special legislation (and I do agree with what you said about 'bending' of the original law BTW). For people to claim wetlands have no connection to "navigable waters"??? Where the h^ll do they think the water in those rivers comes from? Wetlands devastation (as Web eluded to) is the biggest reason streams and rivers in "balanced areas" in the northern regions are becoming spring torrents like the "creeks and aroyos" of the midwest. But that's okay...in another 20 years...down the road when the idiots like the guy in Illinois have all filled in their 54 acres of "wetlands" and unprecedented floods hit the entire river basin of that part of the country...maybe you will see something done about "legislation". In the mean time...rollback taxes. Give tax credits to land owners that own "swamps". Give incentives to states that "are bright enough" to have comprehensive policies that maintain wetlands for quality of Habitat for the wildlife and the eco-systems they represent...as well as human benefit. Wetlands benefit you and I by providing good water and flood protection. Unfortunately, not many people see the connection.
    It's definantely a mess...and I doubt our fearless leaders will be able to hash it out without making it worse.
  10. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    A great and readable book on the subject of water and politics is "The Swamp" which is about the Everglades from the indians until present day. You can pick it up used on Amazon for about $5 in hardback. Makes it clear who is driving the legislation....and it is amazing how this ties in with what is happening today. Without giving away the whole book, it makes it clear that Gore is not president because of one little issue in the Everglades! Being VP, he held out judgement on a proposed jetport in Homestead (which was nixed anyway)....but, the environmental community in FL got pissed at him and pulled all their votes, and endorsed Nader! They also would not let him campaign in FL near the end, as they were going to protest......interesting stuff.

    The Swamp:
    http://www.amazon.com/Swamp-Evergla...9384616-4007840?ie=UTF8&qid=1182102061&sr=8-1
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