Georgia senators call federal water rule a 'power grab'

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 8:12 AM
Last updated 6:32 PM
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ATLANTA -- Georgia’s U.S. senators are fighting a proposed rule on water regulation that they say amounts to a federal power grab, yet environmentalists say it only clarifies existing regulations.

FILE/STAFF
Thurmond Lake and dam are seen here in Augusta. Sens. Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss announced Monday they are joining with other Republicans in the Senate in cosponsoring legislation to halt implementation of a proposal by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Corps of Engineers known as the “waters of the United States” rule. In it, the two agencies spell out which types of streams, lakes and marshes fall under federal regulation.

Sens. Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss announced Monday they are joining with other Republicans in the Senate in cosponsoring legislation to halt implementation of a proposal by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Corps of Engineers known as the “waters of the United States” rule. In it, the two agencies spell out which types of streams, lakes and marshes fall under federal regulation.

The Constitution gives the federal government jurisdiction over so-called navigable waters, or those deep enough to float a commercial barge, like the Savannah River. It was originally a way the Founding Fathers devised to prevent trade wars between states.

The Supreme Court has said the Clean Water Act of 1972 requires the federal government to keep the navigable waterways clean by regulating secondary streams that flow into them. In a 2006 decision, the court split over exactly where to draw the line on certain types of wetlands.

The EPA and Corps issued their proposed rule based on one interpretation of that ‘06 decision, but the Senate Republicans and farm groups rely on a different interpretation in fighting it. They say the proposal would give activists a powerful tool to delay or prevent development and boost costs for property owners.

“The EPA wants to regulate not just ‘navigable’ waters, but every water,” Isakson said. “This is yet another overstep by the administration that will harm not only landowners but our entire agriculture industry in Georgia.”

The Georgia Farm Bureau is asking its members to write the senators and members of Congress to join the opposition to the rule. Chambliss, as the ranking Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee, said he’s in their corner.

They argue that the rule would make any flowing water subject to federal oversight.

Environmental groups say it’s a stretch to say all flowing water would be included.

“This is not an expansion. It’s a clarification,” said Tony Bonitatibus, chief advocate for the Savannah Riverkeeper organization.

Business owners don’t like ambiguity, she said, because it makes planning difficult.

Jud Turner, director of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, said the cost of enforcing an expansion of regulation is another issue for the state. But he acknowledged that the Supreme Court left the issue muddled.

“There’s no question in my mind that clarity is needed,” he said.

S. Aaron McWhorter, a member of the Georgia Board of Natural Resources, is concerned about the practical application of any expansion of federal oversight.

“I’ll just comment that all of us need to realize the Corps can’t keep up with what they’re doing now,” he said. “How in the world are they gonna do what they think they’re gonna do? It takes years to get anything out of them now.”

Comments (7) Add comment
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soapy_725
44049
Points
soapy_725 06/25/14 - 07:33 am
0
0
CC has the answer to this law. Filling all wetlands with houses
Unpublished

asphalt and sanitary sewer pipes.

soapy_725
44049
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soapy_725 06/25/14 - 07:35 am
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0
CC replacing three lane bridge with five lane bridge before
Unpublished

the concrete even cures. Columbia Rd. LOL LOL

soapy_725
44049
Points
soapy_725 06/25/14 - 07:36 am
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CC finally decides to fix the cross county thoroughfares. Must
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be the "Cyber Command Grant Money".

soapy_725
44049
Points
soapy_725 06/25/14 - 07:38 am
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0
Anyone needing a job can work on the William Few Pkwy. They can
Unpublished

retire on this one project. The waiting has been worthwhile. LOL LOL

deestafford
31689
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deestafford 06/25/14 - 07:41 am
3
1
It is a power grab in the truest sense of the term...

It is a power grab in the truest sense of the term. It applies to waters hundreds of miles from a river and even mud holes in the back yard that have water only in heavy rains.

The EPA needs to be disbanded and a replace created that will have its mission and roles very well defined and locked in so there will be no overreach and misconstruing its mission and intent.

We can thank Richard Nixon who signed on this with good intention; however, unintended consequence coupled with an unbridled thirst for power by bureaucrats have led to a Gestapo run amok. No bureaucrat has ever been promoted without showing the ability to make a mountain our of a mole hill and increase the scope of their domain.

rmwhitley
5547
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rmwhitley 06/25/14 - 09:20 am
0
0
epa
Unpublished

at it's "best". Do you like jimmy carter now? What a piece of cow dung and his grandson is running for gov. Depending on how many blacks have moved south to Georgia and have registered at least once, he will surely get their votes. No thinking Georgian will promote carter's epa regime.

dichotomy
37344
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dichotomy 06/25/14 - 09:23 am
4
0
The EPA and the

The EPA and the IRS....unbridled power by unelected bureaucrats from which there is no escape and no recourse. This is the oppressive government the Declaration of Independence tells us that it our right, it is our duty to throw off and institute a new government.

Ruff City
26
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Ruff City 06/25/14 - 07:06 pm
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‘power grab’? Augusta Port Authority by Savannah Riverkeeper!

If “This is not expansion.” Lets hear “clarification” on the ‘power grab’ of the Augusta Port Authority by The Savannah Riverkeeper?

(Tony Bonitatibus, chief advocate for the Savannah Riverkeeper activists, is also Tonya Bonitatibus, chief advocate for the Augusta Port Authority???)

Wake up Augusta! Can you say Conflict of Interest? Certain appointed officials may have given the appearance of Conflict of Interest in certain member’s decisions regarding the rights and interest of the people.

Savannah Riverkeeper/Port Authority appears to be involved in multiple interests, one of which could possibly corrupt the motivation for an act in another, and appears itself or themselves to be in conflict with established local, state and federal laws and rules.

Regulatory Capture is a form of political corruption that occurs when a regulatory agency, created to act in the public interest, instead advances the environmental or special concerns of activists groups that dominate the industry or sector it is charged with regulating. Regulatory capture is a form of government failure; it creates an opening for activists to behave in ways injurious to the public. The Augusta Port Authority may be viewed as a "captured agency" by the Savannah Riverkeeper!

corgimom
38230
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corgimom 06/26/14 - 05:58 am
0
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If you're going to accuse

If you're going to accuse somebody of conspiracy and extortion, man up and say your real name. Don't hide under an alias.

seenitB4
96837
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seenitB4 06/26/14 - 06:43 am
2
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Power grab

Don't we have enough rules & regulations already....soon we won't be able to go the bathroom without a permit.

STOP THE MADNESS.

Little Lamb
48859
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Little Lamb 06/26/14 - 06:59 am
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Welcome

Welcome back to the Chronicle forum, Flipa. It's a little kinder and gentler than the free for alls we had back around 2007 and 2008.

And also, welcome to the forum, Ruff City.

flipa1
2962
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flipa1 06/26/14 - 08:59 am
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No one outside a tiny circle know my real name.

Few know my real name, so it would not help. All an ID thief, or the most violent killers on the planet needs is your REAL NAME... Corgi. We hunt down the MOST VIOLENT rapist, home invaders, car-jackers, bank robbers and biggest frauds on the planet…Thank you for asking though. The name that millions of people from here to Moscow, Sochi, Rome, Paris, L.A. and other foreign cities, ha hahah know me by is flipa’. I am the former world ranked freestyler jetskiier that did your jet ski shows for many years on the IJSBA world tour, The Dragboat and River Race races, The Russian Federations 10th anniversary half time show & fundraisers all over the globe, National Guard nominee of the yr, the wounded warrior who took a licking and keeps on ticking…. etc. I’ll even be in the guineas book of world records soon, too. No one would even know who I am if I used my real name as for decades they call me flipa, flipa, flipa. So I guess when all our taxes and fees etc. go up you're going to want to know the real name of the one primarily responsible for you paying more taxes??? Will no one but Corgi have enough guts to ask for their real names? If the stealing from the county doesn't stop the tax increase won't even cover a much needed pay raise for our best County employees. It will all go to theft, the EPA, and the suspected extortionist. Thank you for the welcome back Little Lamb:o) I missed you too.

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