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Idaho Senator Mike Crapo is calling on the citizens of Idaho and the nation to speak out loudly about what he calls the federal government’s latest attempt to claim control over all the water in the country, including what falls from the sky.

The Environmental Protection Administration has introduced an administrative regulation under the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act to assume regulatory authority over “temporary” wetlands or waterways.

Crapo believes that any decisions regarding allocations and management of water is a state issue with which the federal government should not interfere. He said the proposed regulation is the EPA’s latest attempt to establish authority over all water deposits and is being made on the basis of calling those waters ‘navigable waters of the United States.’ That carries the inference that seasonal steams, temporary lowland wet areas or puddles left after a rain storm are indeed navigable waterways.

Crapo said that term has to be used in order to get jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act and if the regulation is allowed to go into effect the government will be able to assert authority over all waters of the United States.

The Senator said a couple of years ago attempts were made by the Democrats to assume jurisdiction of water through legislation that changed the definition of navigable waters to include virtually all locations of collected waters, seasonal or otherwise. The legislation was stopped by a filibuster. Crapo said because that legislation was stopped, the EPA has now decided to assert water jurisdiction by rule and regulation. He termed the move, “… the latest power grab by the EPA over water.”

He said the proposed rulemaking will be fought aggressively. “It clearly violates law. In fact, this issue was litigated in the Supreme Court and ultimately the court ruled that the word ‘navigable’ had to have some meaning and that they had to at least have some kind of a colorable argument that water was navigable before they could regulate it. And, in violation of that, the EPA is now moving forward and making the argument that ultimately all water gets up in the air and comes down somewhere and its possible that this water might get into a navigable ocean or river and therefore any water anywhere is navigable water.”

Stopping what could be called EPA’s Mud puddle regulation is requiring what Crapo refers to as, “An incredibly big battle.” National awareness of what the regulation would ultimately mean is slow in coming.

Crapo said that there is some bipartisan support against the regulation from the western states where water is so important but to date there has not been much bipartisan support from other areas of the country. He said, “I’m hopeful that it will be generated, and frankly this will require the people of the states where this is such a big issue to speak up very loudly. I believe that when people do realize what’s going on that they will start speaking loudly and then I think we’ll start to get a stronger bipartisan support base.”

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