Hot Take: The Feds Want to Regulate Glorified Puddles

You’d be forgiven for having no clue what the hell the acronym “WOTUS” means. There’s a very long, complicated explanation of the issue but it really boils down to the federal government sticking its nose where it doesn’t belong.

Waters of the United States” is a provision of federal law that allows the government to regulate patches of land adjacent to “navigable waterways” as an effort to reduce measurable pollution.

Tell me, what do you think of when you hear “navigable waterway”?

Certainly an ocean, lake, or river would meet that standard. But oh no, it doesn’t stop there.

The U.S. Supreme Court is considering a second challenge to a specific rule within this law, brought forth by Michael and Chantell Sackett, an Idaho couple who’ve been blocked by the EPA from building a house on their own land since the mid-aughts. Their property is surrounded on three sides by other houses and on the fourth, a drainage ditch.

Diagram of the Sacketts’ property by Reason Magazine.

This property is 300 feet from a lake. But guess what separates the property from the lake: a dozen other houses and a road.

How does that make their property “adjacent” to a navigable waterway??

The EPA’s ham-handed enforcement has drawn legal challenges on multiple fronts, including from the State of Texas and the Texas Farm Bureau. We at The Texan covered that here.

The rule is so broad, any place where water collects and flows — even if it’s dry most of the time — could be left to federal government regulation,” an official with the Texas Farm Bureau told The Texan.

Pray tell, exactly how is a drainage ditch or sporadic collection of water that often dries up in any way “navigable”?!

It boggles the mind,” the Texas Farm Bureau official added.

Boggles the mind, indeed.

Government’s first, and really only responsibility is to protect the rights of the governed. Yet, this is just another example of government stampeding over the rights of those under its thumb. The Sacketts just want to build their dream retirement home.

But that is just a pipe dream so long as the federal government remains standing in the way. It’s amazing that they’ve even been able to put up a fight — most are probably not as lucky.

Farmers and ranchers across Texas will be affected by this absurd, blunderous regulation. Pair that with the equally absurd and improper Endangered Species Act protection of the Lesser Prairie Chicken and the rights of landowners — and their ability to avoid getting sued out the wazoo — are out the window entirely.

These decisions directly affect real people, even though they’re most likely to be the “rubes” who live out in flyover and drive-through country.

There has long been an argument — a very good one, in my opinion — that these agencies especially should be located in Topeka or some other middle-of-the-map city and not the D.C. bubble. It’d give these busybody bureaucrats some perspective being closer to the people their decisions most affect.

There’s a reason it’s the Sacketts who have been stonewalled from building their home and not Michael Regan, head of the Environmental Protection Agency.