Pronounced CRAP in Wyoming
By J. Zane Walley
The Paragon Foundation
The Clean Water Action Plan (CWAP) is a tortuous read. It is so wearisome it's liken to taking a sleeping pill, but perhaps that was the idea when it was written. Bore the reader with innocuous vague language so the normal observer dismisses the document as just another rambling piece of inscrutable government-speak. Luckily for resource-based industries, Bobbie Frank, the Director of the Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts, got stuck in a blizzard with not much more to read than CWAP. She dug into it, and discovered deep in its guarded text lies an enormous threat to American agriculture.
CWAP (pronounced CRAP in Wyoming) is perhaps the strongest anti-agriculture document Washington has ever produced. It literally puts all land users in the entire United States, private and public, under the inconsiderate thumb of a massive and overwhelming blanket of powerful federal agencies. Included are: the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Army Corps of Engineers, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, Bureau of Reclamation, and the National Park Service. Even the formerly toothless U.S. Geological Survey is empowered to make decisions concerning water use.
If you think anything could be more alarming than water rights being ruled by a Federal cabal, think again. CWAP invites environmental groups into the contrivance as a water watchdog on public and private lands. It literally gives Greens police powers. The EPA is the CWAP kingpin so the Green involvement should come as no surprise. EPA under Carol Browner obviously has made American agriculture the whipping boy of the environment and declared an unofficial and unjust war on ranchers and farmers. She is in no small degree aided and abetted in her efforts by Vice President Gore. Gore's National Performance Review observed: "Historically EPA has primarily focused on the protection of human health with less consideration of the impacts on ecosystem issues. Henceforth, however, EPA must make ecosystem protection a primary goal of the Agency". The provisions of CWAP give EPA, acting in concert with environmental interests, the power to administer a paralyzing blow to agriculture and all resource-based industries.
The Clean Water Action Plan is Gore's baby and its successful implementation is seen by some as the cornerstone of his bid for the presidency. The Holy Trinity of environmentalism, Gore, Babbit, and Browner, is in a frenzy to add it to his eco-accolades to appease the environmental vote. In October 1997, Gore directed the EPA, USDA and other federal agencies to develop a plan to meet President Clinton's Clean Water Initiative. In a memorandum to the heads of departments and agencies involved, the Vice President directed them to develop within 90 days, an aggressive plan of action covering 11 high-priority areas. Gore also challenged Congress to help strengthen the Clean Water Act, especially for control of non-point sources of pollution, and to abandon proposals such as recent "property rights" bills that would hamper the ability of state and local governments to protect water quality.
Public land users are immediately threatened by CWAP. Provisions in the document call for all public land agencies to "implement an accelerated program to improve or restore 25,000 miles of stream corridor by 2005," and to "accelerate range planning, allotment planning, implement management changes and accelerate restoration actions to restore sustainability, function and diversity of range land ecosystems. This process will be accomplished through improved allotment management decisions by the year 2000." No doubt "improved allotment management" simply means, get the livestock off the land, and it doesn't take an avid imagination to clearly see that the restoration of 25,000 miles of stream corridor means the same thing. CWAP simply justifies the Clinton administration agenda to block the use of public lands not only by agriculture but also by mining, logging, and petroleum.
Again, this should not be a surprise. Sen. Frank H. Murkowski, Alaska Republican and chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee stated in a recent Washington Post article, "in the next 19 months we will see a significant movement to usurp congressional authority." How true. Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt has long been using his regulatory authority to halt mining, grazing, logging, oil and gas exploration on public lands. In a May 22 National Review article, Mr. Babbitt is quoted as saying: "We've switched the rules of the game. We're not trying to do anything legislatively." Babbitt has constantly sought to strengthen the arsenal of federal land-grabbers. CWAP adds the equivalent of a nuclear weapon to his armory.
CWAP inflicts huge woe on private land users. Two million miles of river protection corridor will be taken almost entirely from private lands. 80 percent of private land that have riparian areas could have federally designated stream and river corridors by 2002. Emphasis is on "strong enforcement." Private land owners would face fines of up to $25,000 for each day that EPA concludes they are in violation of CWAP.
Gee whiz Al, Carol, and Bruce. It was almost a slick move. Bill couldn't have done better. You have learned how to make an end-run around Congress and avoid any public input into your actions. No doubt the implementation of CWAP could have been green icing on the election cake. It's too bad, and so sad that your grand scheme was unearthed and thwarted by the folks in Wyoming. Why if Bobbie Frank hadn't of got snowed in, you might have gotten away with it, but it looks like you have stirred up a beehive or at least got caught with your hand in the honey jar. Wyoming sued you and working folks across America are lining up to sign on the litigation.
The population of Wyoming is less that half a million people, but that tiny mouse roared loudly enough to create a rebellion against CWAP and the agencies behind it. The miniscule Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts, backed by a match grant from the Alamogordo, New Mexico based Paragon Foundation, and represented by well-known property rights attorney Karen Budd-Falen, recently sued the mammoth EPA and USDA agencies. Wyoming claims that they violated The National Environmental Policy Act, Intergovernmental Cooperation Act, Regulatory Flexibility Act, Unfunded Mandates Act, The Fifth Amendment, and The Clean water Act. "It is pure and simple thievery of the most precious resource, our water!" stated Bobbie Frank. "The Gore mandated Clean Water Action has nothing to do with clean water. It is simply a thickly veiled move for the Environmental Protection Agency to seize control of our water."
Twenty-four organizations representing land users in Wyoming, Colorado, Arkansas, South Dakota, Florida, New Mexico, Missouri, Mississippi and Idaho have since joined the lawsuit and the momentum promises to be an avalanche as more people across America learn that they almost lost their water rights to the Federal Government. Mrs. Frank explains the delayed reaction by other land users. "They simply were blind-sided! The Clean Water Action Plan is so complicated, and was forced on us so fast, that other state conservation districts didn't have time to see through the smokescreen. We are happy to have them join us in this action. We have a comprehensive information package we'll send anyone who would like more details."
The Water Rights Rebellion Sidebar 2
The Clean Water Action Plan "Bare-bone" Facts
CWAP Calls for:
1. The creation or restoration of nearly one million acres of wetlands.
2. Two million miles of river protection corridors taken in large part from private lands. Stream and river corridors are defined in CWAP as "ranging in size from a few feet on each side of a small stream to several miles wide on large river systems. Each corridor should extend across the stream banks, the floodplain, and the valley slopes. It should also include a potion of upland for the entire stream length to maintain functional integrity."
3. Restoration to include "Blockage of artificial drainage systems, removal or setback of artificial levies, and restoration of natural patters of floodplain topography"
4. Implementation of federal authority over almost one-half of all watersheds in America.
5. Closure of 20,000 miles of road on public lands to commercial and recreational use.
6. Restoration of 25,000 miles of stream corridors on public lands.
7. Authority for the EPA to lump "impaired" run-off from several ranching and farming operations on the same watershed together for the purpose of imposing fines and requiring federal permits. These are only a few of the alarming elements of CWAP. The entire document has to be scrutinized to realize its monumental impact on all resource-based industries.
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