Several years ago I wrote an article entitled A Web Worth Watching. Its premise was that the public policies which control water and wildlife are what really control this nation from north to south and east to west. I contend this because neither of these two entities recognizes any sovereignty.
International, national, state, county or private properties are irrelevant to these natural resources. Water and wildlife go where they will, regardless of the ‘sacrosanct’ political boundaries humans superimpose on the landscape.
We live our entire lives around these quiet but unrecognized realities and the public laws and policies relevant to them which in turn control us. Do examples such as the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act sound familiar? Let’s reserve a consideration of the Clean Air Act for another article.
The proposed legislation referred to as the Clean Water Restoration Act (S. 787-Senate Environment and Public Works Committee) is a stunningly oppressive example of my premise. This legislation would amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act under the pretext of ‘clarifying the jurisdiction of the United States over waters of the United States. Read that as expansion of federal control.
While our airwaves and print media are over flowing with discussions of energy policies and stimulus packages and projects, S. 787 would redefine “waters of the United States”. What’s in a word you say? Only liberties and livelihoods nationwide is what I say.
The term “waters of the United States” is what establishes federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act (originally call Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1948). The proposed changes in S.787 include “activities affecting such waters” as part of the definition.
These activities mean the things you and I do. This proposed wording and redefinition drives the federal authority down to the very basic levels of you trying to irrigate, develop and maintain ponds and reservoirs and the list goes on. You would need permits to conduct the most basic land stewardship activities. YOUR government is seeking to totally control and dominate the most fundamental natural resource in this nation.
What can you, as an American do?
First: Read the most current version of the proposed legislation yourself, so you know what it says. Obtain this information simply by: going to www.thomas.gov and enter S.787; for non-computer folks simply call your Senator’s office (local or in D.C) and request that the natural resource staff person get you the latest version of the bill.
Second: Mentally prepare yourself to not accept the rhetoric from either conservative or liberal lawmakers that ‘they are trying to change the language to make the bill not so onerous’. That is baby talk and you need to share that perspective with them! We don’t need language changing maneuvers. We need this stopped regardless of how tough and uncomfortable the effort might be. There are times in life when a line in the sand must be drawn. Elected officials need to recognize and respond to those times. Changing language is not what a situation always needs.
Third: Having read what is being proposed make a list of bullet points of why we should not have the legislation, and what the proposed legislation will mean in terms of working on the land and using water. Frequently folks on Capitol Hill can get so focused on finding more ‘moderate or compromising language’ that they miss what it will mean to actually live with the legislation. Help them, with your bullet points, to articulate the problems, oppressiveness, and lack of need for the legislation.
Fourth: Call (or have a friend) your local talk radio show and bring up this topic. Give your neighbors an opportunity to learn what is being proposed and how they could be affected.
Fifth: Sit back, take a deep breath, give yourself some credit for truly caring about your country and stay alert for the next attempt at total domination.
Tag Line: Kathleen Jachowski is a free lance writer and public speaker on natural resources and cultural issues. She serves as Ex. Director of Guardians of the Range. Opinions expressed are her own. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org