Some sportsmen groups support the new rules proposed for the federal Clean Water Act (CWA).
For example, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, of which B.A.S.S. is a member, says this: “Sportsmen must speak up for strong, science-based protections for waters upon which America’s hunters and anglers rely. Tell the Army Corps and EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) you support their efforts to clarify the Clean Water Act and urge them to finalize a rule that protects wetlands and headwater streams.”
I’m not so sure. For months I’ve argued with myself about this. Yes, I want to protect wetlands and headwater streams, but . . .
The original Clean Water Act was passed by our elected representatives and senators and signed into law by the President. It clearly was implemented with the best interests of the public and our aquatic resources in mind.
These rules were formulated by the EPA for the EPA. Public input was solicited, but no bureaucracy is going to institute rules detrimental to its own best interests. It’s going to create regulations that strengthen it and expand its powers.
And what recourse do citizens have in dealing with unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats who, more and more, are making the rules that we must live by? Not much.
EPA insists that these new rules simply “clarify” its regulatory role in protecting waters upstream of navigable waters. It needs to do so, it asserts, because of Supreme Court decisions that created uncertainty.
Critics of EPA and Corps overreach counter that those decisions reined in those agencies, which is why they now are proposing new rules.
I could present you with an almost endless list of testimonials from both sides, but I’ll keep it to a couple.
EPA’s Nancy Stoner says this:
“So EPA and the Corps are bringing clarity and consistency to the process, cutting red tape and saving money. The proposed Waters of the U.S. rule does not regulate new types of ditches, does not regulate activities on land, and does not apply to groundwater.”
Mike Freese, an attorney for the Oregon Farm Bureau counters:
"The administration's response to the committee's oversight efforts has been downright shameful. Their actions are unjustifiable and show blatant disrespect to the transparency they promised the American people,” said Rep. Doc Hastings, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee.
Yes, we all want clean water. And thanks to the original CWA we’ve made tremendous strides in improving water quality and fisheries. The question now is how to balance continued improvements with maintaining a government that is mindful of and respectful to its citizens and their rights.
(This was published originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)