Once again, property rights activists sniff a plot to take away control of their land. This time it's the innocuous-sounding Clean Water Restoration Act, which would return federal law to its standing before two muddled U.S. Supreme Court decisions. In effect, it would confirm the ecological reality that the quality of navigable waters (which even the property rights activists acknowledge are federally regulated) is linked to the quality of non-navigable waters, including the existence of wetlands that filter the pollution that otherwise reaches both.
This lengthy article delves into the intent of the sponsor, Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold, and the arguments of the opponents. The opponents apparently believe the feds have authority to regulate only those waters where you can float a boat, ignoring what feeds those waters. The chief fear of expanded authority is that the feds will tell every landowner in America what he or she must do on his or her own land to protect water. Clarifying amendments have already addressed this concern, but the debate is no longer about the substance; this is one measure the opponents want to kill regardless of the content.