Remember when you were a kid and just loved to jump and splash in puddles after a rain or during breakup? Remember how as a kid you loved to sail stick boats in rain water runoff? Those were the good old days and if the EPA has its way, your children and grandchildren will not enjoy those harmless joys in life. They may have to file an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) before they splash in puddles or sail pretend boats in puddles.
You see, the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are attempting to issue a new “rule” which will impact most all Alaskans. This rule, knows as the Waters Of The US (WOTUS), will extend the reach of the federal government by redefining the definition of WOTUS. This redefinition would give the federal government final authority over land use decisions all over Alaska. Want to build a shopping mall? Want to build a house? Want to build a garden? Want to build a dock or boathouse? You will have to ask the EPA first for permission.
Under the current Clean Water Act, the EPA has authority to regulate “navigable” waters of the U.S.. This includes rivers, bays and estuaries. However, now the EPA is attempting to increase its overreach into once was a state’s jurisdiction, land use regulation over private land. It will effectively become the permitting clearinghouse for anyone attempting to use their private land which meets the EPA’s newly defined WOTUS. This definition would include ditches, groundwater, ephemeral streams, creeks, collecting ponds, and any other water that has a nexus to navigable waters of the U.S.. The EPA and Army Corps state that the hydrologic, ecological, or chemical “connectivity” of remote/isolated waters to navigable waters establishes federal jurisdiction. Thus, these remote/isolated waters become “waters of the U.S.”.
Just to give you an idea as to what would be included in the new “rule” being promulgated by the EPA, here is a short list which should interest you and may even impact you in your everyday life:
- Ditches next to your property or a road will now be defined as jurisdictional tributaries. Any weed cutting mucking out of ditches will come under this new rule.
- Wetlands, lakes, and ponds can now be considered tributaries if they contribute flow to a tributary.
- A tributary can be natural, man-altered, or man-made and includes rivers, streams, lakes, canals, ditches and impoundments.
- If you live by a creek (Campbell Creek for example) your property will come under the control of the EPA.
- Ephemeral streams or bodies of water. In other words, if it rains hard and fills up a usually dry creek bed or low lying area on your property, this property would fall under the jurisdiction of the EPA.
- Large paved parking areas which have runoff which flows into tributaries (new definition) would be included in the jurisdiction of the EPA.
Here is what the State of Kansas would look like if this new “rule” goes on the books:
The overall effect of these proposed new “rules” by the EPA is to take away the rights of the states to manage its land and cede it to the federal government. If this “rule” is successfully adopted, home builders, manufacturers, miners, petroleum companies, shopping centers, railroads, utility companies, fishermen, etc. will be affected adversely by increasing the costs of doing business. This new “rule” will stifle Alaska’s economy and turn us into a colony of the U.S. government.
That is why the Alaska Policy Forum and 425 other organizations throughout the U.S. have signed onto the comments developed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. It is well past time to call out the federal government on its overreach into Alaska’s sovereignty. As Alaskans we need to stand together on federal overreach or we become mere colonists of the federal government.