Any land or business owner and especially anyone in agriculture, construction, real estate, mining, wildlife conservation, forestry, manufacturing, or energy, take note. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) have proposed regulations that will affect your business and your land. "Government is developing policies that will actually regulate most of the land in the United States. ... Literally, shutting down the ability to create infrastructure and large industrial projects," according to William Kovacs. These federal regulators are expanding their authority over U.S. waters to include farmers' ponds, seasonal streams and even temporary bodies of water that most Americans would call puddles. And they are dubiously adding numerous animals to the Endangered Species list, further restricting land use far beyond Congressional intent.
State and local officials, as well as citizens, should be concerned that the federal government will be taking over more decisions that have historically been reserved to the landowner or to state and local governments. One expert said, "This threatens local land use and zoning authority, and is an end run around Congress and the Supreme Court."
Beyond the direct impact of these specific regulations and the resulting torrent of increased litigation costs, the manner in which the EPA and FWS have expanded their authority is cause for great concern. They are claiming authority that, by their own admission "would have been unrecognizable to the Congress that designed the governing framework."
There are a few actions that could be taken to stem the tide of this vast overreach. Business owners and groups, state government, and individual citizens can have an impact.
William L. Kovacs provides the overall direction, strategy, and management for the Environment, Technology & Regulatory Affairs Division at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which initiates and leads multidimensional, national issue campaigns on comprehensive energy legislation, complex environmental rulemakings, telecommunications reform, emerging technologies, and the systematic application of sound science to the federal regulatory process among others.