New Federal Water Act spells trouble for Oregon landowners

Beware of S787 – if you think statewide land use is bad, wait until the Feds get involved
By Dave Hunnicutt
Oregonians In Action

We have written in past weeks about S787, the so-called “Clean Water Restoration Act” that is working its way through Congress.  This dangerous bill would make radical changes to the Clean Water Act and declare nearly every body of water in Oregon and the rest of the country a “water of the United States.”

If S787 passes, the federal government will have the authority to regulate all activities affecting a “water of the United States.”  That means the real possibility of federal zoning and land use controls.  Obviously, this is a serious threat.  Not since OIA’s Bill Moshofsky led successful efforts in the 1970’s to kill federal land use legislation has there been such a serious and direct threat of federal land use controls over private land.

That’s why S787 is such a dangerous bill.

Supporters of S787 claim that the bill simply restores Congress’ intent when they passed the Clean Water Act in 1972.  That’s not true.

In fact, the United States Supreme Court in the Rapanos and SWANCC decisions of 2006 and 2001, respectively, have clearly indicated what Congress intended when they adopted the Clean Water Act in 1972.  Both the Rapanos and SWANCC decisions are based on Congressional intent, which is what courts do when they interpret laws.

Unfortunately, S787 doesn’t restore Congress’ intent – it legislatively overrides the Rapanos and SWANCC decisions, giving the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers powers Congress never intended they have when the Clean Water Act was originally adopted.

S787 is scheduled for a vote in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on June 10th.  Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley sits on the EPW Committee.

If you would like more information on S787 or a copy of the bill, please contact Oregonians In Action at (503) 620-0258 or send us an email at

Dave Hunnicutt
Oregonians In Action

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