Home
In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review June 21, 2012/ 1 Tamuz, 5772

Memo to the the Little Guy: Seemingly innocuous activity could bring the federal hammer down out of a clear blue sky

By A. Barton Hinkle




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | A half-century ago, John Pozsgai emigrated to America from Hungary. Twenty-five years later, he bought a hunk of land in Morrisville, Pa., that had been used as an illegal dumping ground for used tires and old car parts. Pozsgai wanted to build a garage on the land. So he hauled away the old tires — 7,000 of them — and the rusty scrap metal, and hauled in clean fill dirt and topsoil.

No good deed goes unpunished, and Pozsgai's wasn't. Sometimes when it rained, the tires caused water to build up on the property. In the eyes of the federal government, that made it a wetland. Federal agents used surveillance cameras to record Pozsgai's cleanup activity and had him arrested for "discharging pollutants" — i.e., the fill dirt and topsoil - "into the waters of the United States." Convicted, he got a three-year prison sentence and a $200,000 fine.

If federal regulators have their way, America could see a lot more John Pozsgais in its future.

Pozsgai's ordeal was brought about by governmental mission creep. The Clean Water Act of 1972 protected the "navigable waters of the United States and their tributaries." But a series of court cases and bureaucratic decrees expanded the scope of the law to cover non-navigable waters, and even areas of dry land that become inundated after heavy rains or that support "vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated-soil conditions," such as poison ivy, maple trees and other "facultative" plants.

Now, under the Obama administration, the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers are pushing the envelope again. They have rolled out a new Guidance on Identifying Waters Protected by the Clean Water Act that would apply wetlands regulation to ditches, gullies and similar places where standing water can accumulate.

Rep. John Mica, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, says the guidance "seeks to give the federal government control over virtually every body of water in the United States, no matter how small." What's more, the EPA and the corps are trying to impose it by bureaucratic fiat, circumventing the normal procedures required by the Administrative Procedure Act.

That subterfuge has raised hackles on Capitol Hill, where a bipartisan group of 72 House members has introduced legislation pushing back against the EPA and corps power grab. The bill, designed to prevent the executive branch from legislating through regulation, cleared Mica's committee a few days ago.

You don't have to think expanding federal authority is a bad idea to think there is a right way and a wrong way to go about it. During the Bush administration, Barack Obama spoke eloquently about how "the president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation." (That was before he unilaterally authorized a military attack in Libya.) Likewise, federal agencies should not be able to redefine their own missions at whim.

The current question raises broader issues as well. For example, in March the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the EPA could not issue administrative orders without judicial review. In that case, Michael and Chantell Sackett found themselves in (pardon the term) hot water because — shades of John Pozsgai — they had leveled two-thirds of an acre in the middle of a development tract with rock and fill dirt, thereby allegedly filling wetlands illegally.

The EPA slapped them with an administrative order to remove the fill dirt or face sanctions. When they challenged the order, the agency argued that it could do so with no further review - essentially acting as judge, jury and executioner all by itself. Even The Washington Post — no hotbed of right-wing deregulatory fever — said the agency should have "asked itself years ago whether it really needed to hassle a couple seeking to build a home in an existing subdivision, helping to justify every negative caricature of the EPA that Republican presidential hopefuls peddled during the primary race."

That editorial also noted the strident remarks by now ex-EPA official Al Armendiaz, who gained notoriety earlier this year when he said the agency, like the ancient Romans, should strike fear into the hearts of its subjects by crucifying victims at random.

Those remarks expose why the new wetlands guidance is problematic not merely for procedural reasons but for substantive ones as well. A crucial feature of the law is predictability: In order not to break the rules, you have to know what the rules allow and what they do not. But a regulatory system that applies to nearly any ditch or puddle cannot be enforced except in the most arbitrary fashion. So farmers, developers and others simply would have no idea whether their seemingly innocuous activity could bring the federal hammer down out of a clear blue sky. Thus they would live in constant fear of becoming the next apparently random victim.

John Pozsgai, who grew up under the hammer and sickle of Soviet Communism, would understand perfectly.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

A. Barton Hinkle is Deputy Editor of the Editorial Pages at Richmond Times-Dispatch Comment by clicking here.


Previously:




06/19/12: We mustn't let America be buffaloed
05/31/12: Drop and Give Uncle Sam 20
05/15/12: The feds would like to know if you enjoyed that video
05/03/12: Obama inspires: 'America --- Still Not as Bad Off as Venezuela!'
04/26/12: It's everyone's favorite time of year again
03/29/12: GOP disillusionment is a good thing
03/27/12: Just what America needs: more red tape
03/20/12: Nation wondering: what happening to language?
02/21/12: Culture warriors resort to propaganda
02/15/12: Step away from that cookie and grab some air
02/08/12: Lessons in heresy
02/01/12: Do We Really Need Pickle-Flavored Potato Chips?
01/11/12: Shut up, they explained
12/30/11: A Modest Proposal: Let's Ban All Sports!
12/26/11: A Christmas letter from the Obamas
02/24/11: Will the next Watson need us?
12/24/10: Here Are Some Good Gifts for People You Hate
06/15/10: The Presinator
05/26/10: More than equal
04/08/10: Angry Right Takes a Page From Angry Left but guess who is ‘ugly’?
02/16/10: Either Obama owes George W. Bush an apology, or he owes the rest of us a very good explanation for his about-face on wiretapping
02/03/10: Talkin' to us 'tards
01/27/10: I never thought I'd see the day when progressives would howl in ragebecause the Supreme Court said government should not ban books
01/07/10: Gun-Control Advocates Play Fast and Loose
12/31/09: Nearly everything progressives say about neoconservative interventionism abroad applies to their own preferred policies at home





© 2011, A. Barton Hinkle

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles