The Environmental Protection Agency is planning to expand its jurisdiction over the nation's waterways under the Clean Water Act to include ditches, small streams, ponds, and other purely local waterways.

Nearly 204,000 comments have been received since the rule was proposed on April 21, 2014, mostly from Americans opposed to it. Ten U.S. senators also sent a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy expressing their concerns about the proposed rule changes.

Among the examples of potential overreach the senators cite are attempts by environmentalists to ban fireworks at Lake Tahoe along the border of California and Nevada. The senators fear the expanded EPA jurisdiction could led to similar lawsuits in other places.

Richard Curtis, a farmer in Georgia, also expressed his opposition to the proposed rule:

[...] We bought a rundown sharecropper farm that had no timber and was all red clay hills (bare) that ran the creeks and river completely red every time it rained. Things have changed since then with careful planning and God’s blessing we have no red clay hills but have several thousand acres of timber land, several hundred acres of pasture land for cattle and a couple of hundred acres in row crops.

 

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[...]We have many creeks and water sources that start on the land and several miles of interior roads.If this rule goes into effect we would lose control of a lot of our waterways that we have already paid good money for. It would also make some parts of the land worth less because we would not have free use of the water. I pray that you will withdraw this proposed rule as we are better caretakers of the land and water than a government agency will ever be.

Amen.

Private property owners are better stewards of their land than government agencies because they have a vested stake in improving their property and keeping it productive. There are numerous examples of the “tragedy of the commons.” Eroding private property rights and giving government more power is bad for both the cause of freedom and the sake of the environment.