Tuesday, March 2, 2010

New World Water--SCOTUS Strikes Again

Apparently, back in 2001, with its Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County v. United States Army Corps of Engineers decision, and in 2006, in Rapanos v. United States, that lovely Supreme Court of ours basically gutted the Clean Water Act. The problem for the Supremes was the phrase “the discharge of pollutants into the navigable waters”. It seems that they just couldn't figure out what "navigable" meant. I guess none of them had dictionaries at the time. I have two at my fingertips right now. Let's see:

"deep and wide enough to provide passage to ships: a navigable channel."

--Random House

"capable of being navigated : deep enough and wide enough to afford passage to ships"


Hm. I guess the whole controversy would stem on what your definition of "ship" is. Let's take a look, shall we?

"1. a vessel, esp. a large oceangoing one propelled by sails or engines.

2. Naut.
a. a sailing vessel square-rigged on all of three or more masts, having jibs, staysails, and a spanker on the aftermost mast."

--Random House

[AUTHOR'S NOTE: I knew seamen could get a little kinky, but what's a spanker?]

"1 a : any large seagoing boat b : a sailing boat having a bowsprit and usually a square-rigged foremast, mainmast, and mizzenmast each composed of a lower mast, a topmast, a topgallant mast, and sometimes higher masts

2 a : a boat intended or used for navigation and propelled by power or sail b : a boat or structure used for purposes of navigation or intended or used for transportation on a river, sea, ocean, or other navigable water without regard to its form or means of propulsion"


Since the act's inception in 1972 (those "Strict Constructionists" sure do respect their precedents, don't they?), regulators have meant these oh-so-ambiguous definitions to mean that "navigable waters" to mean any large wetland areas and streams that flowed into major rivers. But the Supreme Court has suggested that the term did not include "waterways that are entirely within one state, creeks that sometimes go dry, and lakes unconnected to larger water systems ... even though pollution from such waterways can make its way into sources of drinking water."

Funny how we hadn't heard a word of complaint during the Bush Babee administration. But now that we have an EPA that might actually employ regulators, these same regulators have found themselves stymied by these rulings to the point that they might as well be selling isotope ice cubes at their neighborhood lemonade stand.

According to the New York Times:

Thousands of the nation’s largest water polluters are outside the Clean Water Act’s reach ... As a result, some businesses are declaring that the law no longer applies to them. And pollution rates are rising.

In drier states, some polluters say the act no longer applies to them and are therefore refusing to renew or apply for permits, making it impossible to monitor what they are dumping, say officials.

More than 200 oil spill cases were delayed as of 2008, according to a memorandum written by an E.P.A. official and collected by Congressional investigators. And even as the number of facilities violating the Clean Water Act has steadily increased each year, E.P.A. judicial actions against major polluters have fallen by almost half since the Supreme Court rulings.

Gotta love it.

Sen. Ben Cardin is leading the charge to get the Clean Water Restoration Act passed in the Senate. But, you can only imagine, every industry has pulled out the big guns--aka Glenn Beck--threatening that the government's trying to "take over our rain puddles!!!" EPA Chief, Lisa Jackson, has the power to draw up new regulations, but she wants this done through Congress.

I say we take action into our own hands. I'm not advocating revolution here. I just think that we, the people of these here United States of America, need to do everything it takes to change the composition of this Supremacist Court and get some justices in there who aren't so flummoxed over the definition of "rule of law" (or who at least believe that such a term actually exists).

So, starting today, I want all of us to ban together, pool our resources, and send all chitterlings, pork chops, spare ribs, and any and all other pork-related projects to:

Justice Clarence Thomas
Supreme Court of the United States
Washington, DC 20543

With good ole American know-how and ingenuity and the proper hot sauce, we can get this brother off the Court in no time and have The Big Brutha replace him with someone who acts like they got some gotdamned sense!

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