Is Obama Penalizing ‘Unruly’ States by Seizing Water?

By Frank Whalen

In what has all the makings of a grudge match, the Obama administration appears set to claim federal authority over states’ rights in a battle over one of the necessities of life: water.

Tombstone, Ariz., after enduring wildfires and mudslides in 2011, has been unable to repair its water pipelines due to the federal government’s intervention. World Net Daily’s Bob Unruh reported that a letter from Julie Decker, the deputy state director in the U.S. Department of the Interior, stated, “Federal water rights are entitled to a form of protection that is broader than what may be provided to similarly situated state law rights holders.”

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In essence, without federal approval, it would not be legal to develop or even repair water lines because the federal government has “a claim to water in arid Western states, such as Utah, Montana, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona, that supersedes all other authorities, including decisions by state water courts.”

The Goldwater Institute has gotten involved in the fight on behalf of Tombstone. Said Nick Dranias, the lead attorney on this case: “If the Forest Service can effectively seize Tombstone’s 130-year-old water rights during a state of emergency—rights that the service recognized as valid in 1916—no state or local government will be safe from the feds.”

A statement from the institute declared: “The growing federal stranglehold over water rights in Arizona is a direct assault on state autonomy. There is perhaps no better way for the federal government to quell restive Western states, like Arizona, that dare to resist federal immigration, healthcare and unionization policies.”

It is possible that the Obama administration is playing hardball due to Arizona’s previous assertions of states’ rights over federal rule. Unruh even mentions that this case will affect many of the Western states that rely on water to survive and that these states “largely voted against him in the 2008 election.”

However, it seems more likely that the administration is using the pro-environmental angle to further its agenda. Obama has committed his presidency to “green” energy despite the problems that have already arisen from his involvement with corporations like Solyndra. Dranias even mentioned, “Emails to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from various activists cheered the fires and floods that destroyed Tombstone’s water supply system.”

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Gina Miller at the grassroots organization Renew America expands upon this, reminding readers that the “federal government long ago assumed control of the ‘navigable’ waters of the United States under the guise of ‘protecting’ clean water, when it has been about nothing but power and control from the start. You may also know that after Barack Obama took over the presidency, the little dictators in the Democratic Congress attempted to amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to delete the word ‘navigable’ from ‘waters of the United States’ in order to seize control of basically all water in our country, right down to the mud puddle in your backyard.”

Frank Whalen has been a radio talk show host since 1994, and worked as a consultant for Maxim magazine. For more news and views from Frank, see Frank Whalen Live.