Among the worst violators of Americans’ property rights are out-of-control regulators who enforce federal environmental laws. This trend only seems to be increasing as Congress looks to pass the “Clean Water Restoration Act” (S.787). S. 787 would infringe on the rights of property owners across the nation and result in an unprecedented expansion of the regulatory authority of the federal government.

S. 787, re-introduced by Sen. Russell Feingold, seeks to re-establish the nearly unlimited powers of the Clean Water Act lost due to U.S. Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006. While the bill aims to restore protection of wetlands and waterways, S. 787 mandates all waters be placed under regulatory control of the federal government, leaving property owners vulnerable to a potential federal “land grab”.
By placing all waters under the regulatory control of the federal government, this legislation goes way beyond the original intent of the Clean Water Act. Placing restrictions on the management of private land impinges on Americans’ abilities to utilize their land in the way they see fit. Farmers, Ranchers, and homeowners will be subject to the ever-widening reach of federal bureaucrats who will be concerned with every last drop of water that touches their land. Under this legislation, it would not be unfounded that a landowner wake up one morning after a heavy rain to find his property now useless because his ditches have been flooded and are now declared a wetland.

In sum, landowners will see their property value diminish due to increased land use restrictions, economic development and infrastructure projects will be curtailed due to delays in securing federal permits, and outdoor recreation enthusiasts will find new restrictions on both public and private land.

Click here to view a pdf version of the letter sent by Property Rights Alliance to Senators urging opposition to S. 787.