So congress says the Clean Water Act applies to all U.S. navigable water. Okay, I can see them getting authority from the interstate commerce clause. But then the Corp of Engineers and the EPA have their way with things:
The dispute is one of two cases consolidated for oral argument Tuesday examining just how far upstream the Clean Water Act (CWA) extends federal jurisdiction. Is it limited to lakes and rivers? Or does it include remote wetlands with no link to them? At stake: how broadly the clean water law will be applied nationwide and, potentially, whether a broad application of the law is consistent with the proper constitutional balance of power between the federal government and the states.
At the center of the dispute is a discrepancy between the words Congress used when it wrote the CWA and the regulations the US Army Corps of Engineers and Environmental Protection Agency wrote later to enforce the clean water law.
Congress said US jurisdiction would extend over all “navigable waters.” EPA and Corps of Engineers regulations interpret the law as extending far upstream, even to waters with no hydrologic connection to a tributary of navigable waters.
“Through this authority, the Corps will effectively exercise a wide-ranging federal police power over all kinds of land use,” writes Carabell’s lawyer, Timothy Stoepker, in his brief to the court. “A saturated portion of a residential lawn, which is near a storm drain … will come within the scope of the act, and the owners of such land will have to obtain permits from the Corps before making a variety of ordinary land-use decisions.”
So what definition of navigable water can you come up with that includes a saturated portion of a residential lawn? This is government WAY out of control.