Sunday, May 18, 2008

Go to the source before forming your opinion...

I somehow came across this blog post this morning. I had not intended to get this political in my blog, but this post raised my ire.

The author is seriously misinformed and is using a quote from a politician to form her opinion instead of the actual text of the bills before the House and Senate, and the judicial, regulatory, and technical history of the issue. [Personally, I rarely form an opinion in direct response to a politician's quote, noting that there is almost always an underlying agenda. I form my opinions surrounding political issues based on fact, not party line.]

Due to the 2001 SWANCC and the 2007 Rapanos-Carabel Supreme Court decisions, the federal government has had isolated waters lacking interstate commerce and waters without a "significant nexus" to a navigable water removed from regulation. This has reduced the reach of the Clean Water Act and limited the ability of the federal government to regulated discharges of pollutants to the waters in question, ranging from prairie potholes and vernal pools, to ephemeral washes and arroyos in the southwest. In the absence of federal regulation, theoretically, states are supposed to fill the void. In reality, that only happens in the most progressive of states. Most states have limited ability to emplace new water regulation due to state and local politics and funding limitations, much like other sorts of regulation, like health care and education.

The persons who brought those cases to court and the supporting interests had the underlying interest to reduce the scope and breadth of the federal government's regulation and reduce the regulatory burden on the regulated community. Unfortunately, it has had the opposite effect, making the determination of regulation much more difficult, time-consuming, and burdensome on both the regulators and the regulated community. Where federal jurisdiction was once clear-cut, now it is fuzzy and takes considerable time and effort on everyone's part.

Personally, these two cases have made my work, my customers' work, and especially the work of regulators I work with much more time-consuming, onerous, and burdensome. It has also confused the cross-regulation of different sections of the Clean Water Act, making communication between several different branches and agencies of local, state, and federal government critical. A behemoth task.

The Clean Water Restoration Act mentioned in the above blog would restore the previously-removed regulation and effectively ease the regulatory burden [on the federal government, on states, localities and private interests] by making the geographic scope of federal Clean Water Act regulation crystal clear.

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