Newspaper column: Drunk with power, feds coming for our water

There may not be sufficient documentation to prove that Mark Twain ever said, “Whiskey is for drinking; water is for fighting over,” but Nevada ranchers and farmers are having to fight over water with two branches of their own federal government. It’s enough to drive one to drink, as recounted in this week’s newspaper column, available online at The Ely Times and the Elko Daily Free Press.

First, the Environmental Protection Agency rewrote the rules for the Clean Water Act in such a way that gives it authority over just about any stream, dry creek bed or backyard wading pool in the country, even though the law as originally written was meant to protect navigable interstate waterways from pollution.

As if grabbing a claim on every drop of water on the surface were not enough insult and injury, the U.S. Forest Service, a division of the Agriculture Department, has published a “Proposed Directive on Groundwater Resource Management” that would give it virtual veto power over the use of any aquifer remotely connected to any land under Forest Service jurisdiction.

The Western Governors Association has sent a letter to Agriculture Department Secretary Tom Vilsack challenging his agency’s authority to carry out this proposal and asking for answers to a number of questions. The letter, signed by Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and others, notes Congress gave states sole authority over groundwater in the Desert Land Act of 1877 and the Supreme Court upheld this exclusive authority in a 1935 court case.

Among the questions posed by the governors are: “Given the legislative and legal context, what is the legal basis for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and USFS assertion of federal authority in the context of the Proposed Directive?” and “How will USFS ensure that the Proposed Directive will not infringe upon, abrogate, or in any way interfere with states’ exclusive authority to allocate and administer rights to the use of groundwater?”

Additionally, several Western congressmen — including Nevada’s 2nd Congressional District Rep. Mark Amodei — are attempting to insert language in a 2015 appropriations bill that would protect privately held water rights from federal takings. The language was drafted by Amodei and Rep. Scott Tipton of Colorado. It passed the House in March as the Water Rights Protection Act. Putting the language in the appropriations bill increases the chances it will be signed into law.

Amodei noted that in recent years various federal land agencies have made a concerted push to acquire water rights, including cases in which land managers demanded that water users apply for their water rights under state law in the name of the agency rather than for themselves.

In another letter to Vilsack signed by Western congressional members, including Amodei and Nevada Sen. Dean Heller but no other member of the Nevada delegation, the secretary is told the proposal would impose “a chilling effect on existing and future water resource development and the uses dependent on that development not only within NFS lands but outside these lands.”

The feds already control 87 percent of Nevada land, now they are coming for the water, too. Some are putting up a fight.

Read the entire column at Ely or Elko.

50 comments on “Newspaper column: Drunk with power, feds coming for our water

  1. Winston Smith says:

    What if Judge Andy is correct as usual, King Friday…

  2. metalguy21 says:

    Once again the Fed treats all issues before them like a big meal of Chinese/German food. They eat their fill but an hour later they’re still hungry for power. Hey, I’ll be here all week!

  3. Steve says:

    Democracy Winston? We live under an Oligarchy, I thought you knew.

  4. Winston Smith says:

    Oh look, Petey! A real Second Amendment moment:

  5. Athos says:

    I wouldn’t hold your breath waiting for Tom Vilsack’s reply.

  6. Athos says:

    The Judge did nail it, though:

    “What if we have only one political party — the Big Government Party — and it has a Democratic wing and a Republican wing?”

    There is hope, however:

  7. Rincon says:

    “First, the Environmental Protection Agency rewrote the rules for the Clean Water Act in such a way that gives it authority over just about any stream, dry creek bed or backyard wading pool in the country, even though the law as originally written was meant to protect navigable interstate waterways from pollution.”

    If the tributaries are polluted, then how can the EPA keep the downstream navigable bodies of water from being polluted? The whole idea of limiting the authority of the EPA to only navigable bodies of water is nonsensical in the first place. Are boats the only thing being protected here?

    “Proposed Directive on Groundwater Resource Management” that would give it virtual veto power over the use of any aquifer remotely connected to any land under Forest Service jurisdiction.”
    This one is a little more disturbing, but I was too lazy to read the whole 39 pages. Does anyone know where the veto power is given in this document?

  8. Winston Smith says:

    “If the tributaries are polluted, then how can the EPA keep the downstream navigable bodies of water from being polluted? The whole idea of limiting the authority of the EPA to only navigable bodies of water is nonsensical in the first place. Are boats the only thing being protected here?”

    Better question: How the the EPA unilaterally give itself more authority, or even with Congressional approval, when there is no such powers delegated by the states in the Constitution. Just because some federal agency wants a (non-delegated) power, doesn’t mean it gets it. This is tyranny, pure and simple…

    If you want D.C. to have more power, amend the freakin’ Constitution!

  9. Athos says:

    But it’s for the common good!

    How can you argue against that?

    Rinny, you puzzle me.

  10. Winston Smith says:

    Read an interesting article today:

    Anyone want to comment? Bueller? Anyone…anyone?

  11. Steve says:

    Empire, once achieved, begins to rot from the inside out immediately.

    It’s only a matter of time.

  12. Athos says:

    Winston, where do you find these crackpots?? Servando Gonzalez could think of no other worthy President than JFK? Really? And this from a self described Cuban-American? I need a smoke, but when I get back, I’ll have a few things to comment about, OK?

  13. Athos says:

    OK, I’m back. It leaves me stunned that so many of today’s editorial writers and thinkers (from both sides, liberal and conservative) have conveniently overlooked the 111th Congress, and that Socialist Dream come True election of 2008!

    There have only been 3 times a political party had a supermajority in the senate, congress and owned the White House: LBJ in ’65 (and look what those Socialists did!!) Jimmy Carter in ’77, and The Chosen One in ’09. Has everyone just completely forgotten all that? Jesus, Joseph and Mary!

    Pinocchio appointed Czars to run our government! Czars for goodness sake! Where’s James Bond when you need him? Yes, the Republicans are not perfect and do have a propensity for selling themselves out (reach across that aisle one more time John McShamnesty! The press are gonna LOVE you this time, right?). So much so that the image of Lucy pulling up the football Charlie Brown is trying to kick for the upteenth time is an appropriate image of Republican leadership, isn’t it?

    I’ve listened to Rush since before BJ took office. He does voice a lot of what I’m thinking. And it helps to have reaffirmed that I’m not crazy rejecting these insane ideas being promoted by our leaders (and media, and movie stars and preachers). In fact, the lawsuits, court rulings, EPA regulations, ALL the wasteful spending done with our tax money on programs that are proven to fail, all the alphabet soup agencies that are arming up to kill our brother citizens (BATF still around??) and so on, are so ANTITHETICAL to common sense, it has to be by design.

    And then I read about Saul Alinsky, and the great works of Clower/Piven, and see how Marx is being followed, and I cry, “Erika!”

  14. Like so many grand schemers and big picture types, he comes off as half baked.

  15. Rincon says:

    When the products of commerce cross state lines, then the effects of commerce are interstate. Air and water pollution routinely cross state lines and are in part, products of commerce. A bit of a stretch, but not altogether out of line. As a practical issue, if California pollutes the air, how are the other 49 states supposed to make it stop if there can be no federal involvement?

  16. Winston Smith says:

    “A bit of a stretch, but not altogether out of line.”

    No more than Rose Mary Woods, I spose…

  17. Steve says:

    “As a practical issue, if California pollutes the air, how are the other 49 states supposed to make it stop if there can be no federal involvement?”

    An interesting statement considering the US is exporting more coal in 2012 and 2013 than any other year since 1949. And Germany (That bastion of green energy) is burning a bunch of it! Their CO2 output went up 1.2% last year from burning more coal.
    Now, I like the air to be clean and I don’t like breathing smoke. But I know plants like CO2 and I know Coal can be burned clean. But this whole thing is more about control than it is about anything else and the federal water grab is another facet of that very thing.

    Read that doc…the Forest Service considers themselves “Sovereign Owners” of water. After which they go on to claim they really only want to “help”.

    Meanwhile bridges under sue three times their expected lifespan are rusting away and falling down, taking lives along the way.

    Rotting, that is what this empire is doing. From the inside out.

  18. Steve says:

    That should be bridges under USE

  19. Athos says:

    Rinny, “If”??? California pollutes the air????”

    You don’t live in Las Vegas, do you?

  20. Rincon says:

    It is kind of ironic. California, with the nation’s toughest air pollution laws, routinely pollutes on a massive scale every summer. I wonder how the total pollution from the fires stacks up against that from all other manmade sources.

    The question still remains: “As a practical issue, if (or when) California pollutes the air, how are the other 49 states supposed to make it stop if there can be no federal involvement?”

    Are you sure you want to use Germany as an example Steve? Their CO per capita in 2009 was 9.6 while ours was 17.2 – almost double!
    Germany’s 2009 figure was their lowest since 1991 or before. In 2012 & 2013, they rose by about 3%, primarily from shutting down nuclear plants and the inability to use natural gas as a realistic option. They will have to start burning a great deal to come anywhere near us though.

    Coal can be burned clean, but only at great expense.

    As for the bridges, perhaps the rich can pay just a little more than a flat tax? According to Wikipedia, they pay about that same percentage of their income in taxes as the middle 60%. The top 1% don’t pay a greater portion than anyone else. Even the bottom 20% pay a substantial portion of their income in taxes. Like it or not, we
    essentially pay a flat tax today, except for the bottom 20%.

  21. Steve says:

    Lets tax the rich at 100%… will pay for about 3 days of expenditures.

    Germany is backsliding because solar is not ready for prime time. They were relying on nukes for lowering their CO2. This has just begun, wait for it. Meanwhile look at China.

  22. Rincon says:

    Define rich. The top 25% make 85% of the money, leaving 15% for the other 75% of us. Do you really think the people making 15% of the money should pay the majority of the bill?

  23. Athos says:

    Why not fix it up and just bill Bill Gates and Warren Buffet and George Soros? They could cover it themselves, and not bother with anyone??

    As to the infrastructure repair, 5 years ago Pinocchio sold us on the $billion stimulus to fix our crumbling infrastructure. Where did that money go?

    And for the record, Rin, you sound like a socialist. You know that Utopia doesn’t exist in reality, don’t you? Where has this socialist model worked in the past? (take money from the rich and give it to the poor, with government taking their cut.)

  24. Rincon says:

    You don’t necessarily take from the rich and give to the poor. The objective is to find a way to avoid the extreme income inequality that we have today. I’m open to ideas. Anyone who thinks it’s legitimate for Bill Gates to be worth more than 1.9 million AVERAGE Americans has a screw loose. (Add the 28 billion he’s given to charity, and Gates could have been worth more than 2.6 million of us). Median American adult net worth = 38,786. Bill Gates’ net worth = 76 billion.

    This is royalty in a putative capitalist society. So where do we stop this insanity? When the richest man is worth more than the rest of us put together? Of course not! Results don’t matter to Conservatives. Dogma is far more important.

    For successful “socialist” countries, try Scandinavia (Danes are considered the happiest people on the planet) or Australia. Much of Europe is as well or better off than us. They’re slimmer, healthier, less stressed, have much more vacation time, a shorter work week, and live longer than we do while maintaining a high standard of living. GDP is hardly the only measure of a good life. Besides, the citizens of 15 OECD countries (there are only 34) have a higher net worth than the average American, while most of them are more “socialized” than we are. The facts just don’t support the Conservative fantasy.

  25. Steve says:


    Now lets make Europe PAY for their OWN military.

  26. Athos says:

    Rinny, let’s follow your line of reasoning, shall we? The median income for people living in the Democratic republic of the Congo is $236 per year. That’s over 160 times poorer than us Americans! And there are multiple countries that are equally poor. How is it fair that we are so much richer than Honduras?
    Maybe it has to do with our capitalist system? But don’t worry, Pinocchio and his ilk are working hard to equal that out, aren’t they?
    The only way socialism works is to bring everyone DOWN to the lowest common denominator.

    I believe I’ll pass, thank you very much!

  27. Steve says:

    Europe IS much better off than most of us! Exactly, Rincon. THEY keep sucking on our military teat!
    GREAT example there.

  28. Athos says:

    Also, I wouldn’t be too quick to send us to Europe extolling the virtues of Socialism. The Danes, Swedes, French, English and Swiss are having a little Shiria Law problem with all their immigrants.

    But maybe you feel the same way?-

    And by the way, didn’t you watch the Dr. Utopia cartoon Winston put up a few days ago?

  29. Rincon says:

    I agree about the military and the sharia business. My point is that these “socialist” countries are hardly falling apart

    The reason people in Honduras make less money than us is because they produce less. Do we really believe that Gates produces 2 million times more than the average American? Even if we assume that, then should Alexander Fleming have been compensated trillions of dollars for the millions of lives that penicillin and its derivatives have saved? If all inventors were paid on the same scale as Gates, there wouldn’t be a nickel left for the rest of us.

  30. Steve says:

    Remove our military money and those socialist countries will fall apart, fast.

    In the USA if one is able to earn a billion dollars then one should be complimented and asked how they managed to do it so others may try some of the same things for themselves.
    Today’s liberal prefers to be all jealous and demand they give up their earnings so today’s liberal can “fee good” about “helping” the poor eat for a day,,,,instead of teaching those very same poor how to earn enough to eat for a lifetime.

  31. Rincon says:

    Since we spend 3.8% of GDP on defense and Europe spends 1.5-2.5%, it seems unlikely that they would “fall apart” for the extra 1-2% they would have to spend. You are one of the few people on Scrooge’s side in A Christmas Carol. I know a vet like him. Owns a dozen or so clinics, pays his help minimum wage, gets sued for malpractice occasionally, but he’s rich. From your opinions, I suspect you would say he contributes much more to society than I. I beg to differ.

  32. Rincon says:

    One question: Were the bottom 85% overpaid thirty years ago, or are the top 15% overpaid today? Or do you claim that the bottom 85% suddenly are contributing half as much of the GDP as they did 30 years ago? Because that’s how they are being paid.

  33. Rincon says:

    Answer me this (This one’s getting to me. Can you tell? 🙂 : Did Carnegie deserve to be paid, as he was, vastly more money than Bessemer. Carnegie steel could not have even existed without Bessemer. Once Bessemer invented the process for making steel, it was inevitable that many would produce steel economically. Carnegie just managed to bludgeon his competition into submission. Seems to me that we owe Bessemer more than Carnegie by a long shot.

  34. Steve says:

    You keep on being jealous of those who have figured out how to keep what they have earned.
    You have even placed one example of a shady businessman in a (weak) attempt to bolster your argument. Thing is you must believe ALL business people are JUST LIKE THAT GUY to follow your line of argument.

    People who win are to be learned from as examples of what to do right!
    Take a look at Vegas’s own Danny Koker. He is non stop,,with his tattoo parlor in the Rio, Counts Vamp’d, Counts Kustoms, Counting Cars and touring with his band Counts 77 on top of it all. He has been on local TV saying its a whole bunch of people who make it happen but I guarantee you, without Danny Koker none of it would happen. None of it at all. For ten years I worked with his slide player. It was all John Zito ever wanted to do, play on stage in front of a bunch people. They sound great and they are touring a bunch now.

    In the 90’s I worked for a Romanian who came to the USA with nothing but the clothes he was wearing and a couple changes in the suitcase he was carrying. He began in Massachusetts working for another owner. Moved to Las Vegas, worked for the old Master TV and while working for them, opened his own place. He made it into something that qualified for enough credit to buy a shopping plaza and ran the business while leasing out stores. He sold the plaza part way through the 2000’s and after all the fes and taxes were paid he pocketed $600,000. To this day he maintains the business license and its phone number even though it will never operate as a going concern ever again.

    So I am supposed to be jealous of these people? Or should I be happy for them and maybe learn a thing or two along the way?

  35. Rincon says:

    You’re comparing $600,000 to 76 billion??? Apples and oranges, Steve. The boss of that animal hospital may not be so much different than Gates, but the Walton family is a better example. Wal-Mart employees famously get low pay while the owners are rich beyond imagination. So what’s the big difference?

    You feel that some of us human beings deserve more than a million times as much money as the average, hardworking American. I consider that an insult to them. Do you really think our society could have afforded to pay that kind of compensation to the likes of the Wright brothers, Edison, Fleming, Bessemer, etc? Gates and the Waltons are pikers compared to them
    You also never answered whether the rich were underpaid in the 1950’s, ’60’s, and ’70’s, overpaid today, or far more productive today. It has to be one of the three.

  36. Steve says:

    You are still jealous. It’s not the amount. It’s the ability.

    Take a pill, chill and try to learn from their success.

    I am not going to get into an economic argument based on jealousy. Get over that first. Then, maybe, you will begin to see why I applaud those who are able to attain that kind of wealth even as I do not have it myself.

    I refuse to wallow in envy.

  37. Athos says:

    ” Do we really believe that Gates produces 2 million times more than the average American?” What are you Rinny, a Moron? What product did Bill Gates make all his money on, hmmmm? Or did this computer you’re typing away on appear out of thin air?

    Or maybe Algore made an operating system, with personal computers that have made billions of people’s lives easier today, hmmm? Maybe that’s the problem with you socialist coveting Utopeans: you don’t understand how Markets work. And seeing how MSFT is a global company, they make money from billions of people demanding (and buying) their product. And they’ve been doing it for close to 40 years!!

    So the answer is YES, Bill Gates produced MORE than 2 million times the “average” American.

  38. Athos says:

    You mention Edison, Rinny. Do you think he died a penniless pauper? (the answer is no!) Nor did Alexander Fleming. They didn’t have Gates money (or George Soros for that matter. why is it you socialists never go after Georgie’s money? What positive contribution did he provide to make HIS billion$?)
    Now, Forrest Bird was smart enough to patent his ventilator and respirators so he did make a boat load of money (and keeps millions of people alive to this day!). As to the labor market 30 to 50 years ago, that is a discussion for another day, but everything has changed exponentially.


    70 years ago, my parent went to the movie theaters to see Errol Flynn, or Judy Garland for 10 cents. I believe Flynn was making $4500/ week back then, and still considered in your top 15%.

    Robert Downey Jr earned $75 million doing movies in 2013. Why?? Cause instead of 30 million people paying 10 cents, we have 100s of millions of people worldwide paying $18 for super-surround sound 3D luxury seating theaters. And 2 of his films grossed over $1billion each.

    You hating on him for being Iron Man?? And was Iron man worth 300 times Robin Hood??

    And in keeping with your topic, Sylvester Stallone made $10,500,000 in 1983. Rambo was 42 times more productive than Peter Blood?

  39. Athos says:

    And just one more thing that stick in my craw, Rinny. The Waltons have NEVER put a gun to ANYONE’S head and FORCED THEM to work at Walmart. Last I checked, they have people seeking employment with them every day.

    But there HAVE been some institutions that did use armed coercion as an employment tool. Right, Che??

  40. Rincon says:

    By calling it jealousy, you are claiming to know my motivations. Unless you are telepathic, that isn’t possible.

    Please bear with me on this one, but I say that Bill Gates created very little benefit for the average citizen. Computers bring greater efficiency and so, have increased GDP. Since 100% of this increase has gone only to the rich, Gates benefited only the rich, not the majority. The majority of us are no better off economically than they were before computers. Which reminds me, you still haven’t answered my question about the rich being overpaid now or underpaid previously.

    Under your rules, if you have the brains and power, grab all you can and it will be fair. This includes the power of the masses. If they get angry enough, as they did in Russia, China, and Cambodia, just before their disastrous revolutions, then the usurpation of power from the elite will be fair according to your thinking. To paraphrase Steve, don’t make them too jealous. They just might revolt. A system that benefits all is far more stable than one that benefits only an elite.

  41. Athos says:

    ” Since 100% of this increase has gone only to the rich”….What evidence do you base this assumption? (It’s false, by the way)

    I did answer your question about the rich being paid previously. Sly vs Ironman, remember?

    Gaddafi was rich. Robert Mugabe was rich. Saddam Hussein was rich. They were all overpaid 30 years ago.

  42. Steve says:

    “Under your rules, if you have the brains and power, grab all you can and it will be fair.”

    You claimed I am reading your mind and in response you try to read mine?

    I am saying liberals are jealous of anyone outside their sphere of control who manages to make some money. You only bring up Gates because you think he is a good example.

    Stop following, start thinking.

  43. Rincon says:
    Go to the section labeled “household income over time” and look at the first graph. From 1976 to 2005 (it’s worse now), the income of the bottom 80% barely budged since while the top 20% rose substantially. If you need more up to date figures, let me know and I’ll poke around some more.

    The bottom line is simple. The U.S. median household income was $50502 as of 2011. The mean income is 69821. In theory, if we became 100% socialist, then everyone would earn $69,821. This means that the majority of us would get more than $19.000 in extra income. The poor would get far more. Although total income may drop under socialism, it could drop as much as 25% and the majority would still have a higher income than they do now. I see lots of European countries making about the same amount as us, so a 25% drop would be unlikely. It would be entirely rational for the majority, voting in their own self interest, to support socialism. The rich just need to hope that the majority doesn’t wake up.

  44. Athos says:

    Rinny, are you purposely blind, or are you just trying to fill in for petey?

    Do you really think Professional Football players will play for $69, 821? Talk about incomes from 1960!

  45. Steve says:

    So Rincon would “solve” this made up problem by forcing all sports to severely limit the amount of money they pay the team members. Of course that would result in the money going to the team owners….nice! A big pay raise for the rich!

    Envy is a bad thing.

  46. Rincon says:

    Filling in for Petey. Thanks Athos, for a nice complement. You DID mean it as a compliment, right?

    My tongue was firmly in my cheek on my last post. I don’t advocate socialism in general, but I was making a point, of course. First, the football players. Of course there will be professional players willing to play for $69,000. I know this because there are amateurs and players in smaller colleges and high schools for that matter that pay to play. The quality of play would be less and I don’t advocate total socialism, as I said. The money would not go to the team owners of course, because they would make only $69,000 too.

    The point remains that it is presently in the best self interest of a majority of voters to vote for most socialistic policies. This is a dangerous situation. Socialism was born, and in most cases, was implemented because of dissatisfaction due to income inequality. The majority may not stay asleep forever, especially in light of the present trend.

  47. Steve says:

    The challenge is to teach and inform the proletariat to earn instead of take.

  48. Rincon says:

    We’ve done that and guess who got all the money. Look at the 5th graph from the top.

  49. Steve says:

    You can lead a horse to water…..
    As long as the people are comfortable; little, if anything at all, will change.
    Keep tilting.

  50. […] the House to act on sage grouse protection and blocking the Environmental Protection Agency from grabbing control of all surface […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s