June 19, 2009
The U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed the Clean Water Restoration Act (CWRA) out of committee on a party-line vote. The bill was amended at the markup by Sens. Max Baucus (Mont.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) and Barbara Boxer (Calif.).
Under current law, the federal government has jurisdiction over "navigable waters of the United States."
The amendment to the CWRA would remove the word "navigable" from the definition and would expand federal regulatory control over something as small as ephemeral streams or ponds that tend to be filled with water during the wet times of the year. It may potentially even include the regulation of ground water.
The Public Lands Council strongly opposes this legislation, not only because it infringes on private property rights, but also because it limits the state partnerships and flexibility that have made the current Clean Water Act so successful. Sen. Mike Crapo (Idaho) has placed a hold on the legislation resulting in the bill needing 60 votes in favor of its passage to be considered by the full Senate.