Sen. Paul: Government Reguatory Overreach
The latest release from the office of Senator Rand Paul:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today Sen. Rand Paul spoke on the government’s regulatory assault on private property and previewed his upcoming roundtable forum with victims of regulatory overreach. Transcript and video of his speech are below, as well as information on next week’s event, PROPERTY WRONGS: A discussion with the victims of the U.S. government’s assault on private property.
Our country used to follow our Constitution, which limited government power. We have become instead too often a place where unelected bureaucrats write their own laws, place unreasonable burdens on business, and threaten peaceful citizens with heavy fines or jail time. Today, Americans are suffering from the overreach of its regulatory agencies. These regulations have stymied job creation, created criminals out of ordinarily decent citizens, and blurred the definition of property rights.
There have been all-too frequent reports of individual rights being violated by overzealous bureaucrats. These include the story of a family that sought to build a house on its half-acre of land, yet after they broke ground, the EPA interfered, claiming the family violated the Clean Water Act by placing fill materials into “wetlands.” There is no lake, pond, or stream on their property yet the EPA is requiring them to obtain a building permit that would cost more than the value of their land. The family proceeded by filing suit, but the request was dismissed by a federal judge and now the Supreme Court is considering these violations.
Another man bought a junkyard across the street from his house with the intent to construct a building on the lot. He proceeded to clean up this landfill by removing 7,000 old tires and rusted-out cars. However, the EPA did not view this effort as a clean-up but rather a violation of the Clean Water Act. Because of a small drainage ditch on the edge of his property, his property was designated a wetland. Referred to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution the man was sentenced to three years in prison and a $200,000 fine for violating the Clean Water Act.
The USDA even fined one family over $90,000 for a “paperwork violation” after selling some rabbits to a local pet store. Over the past few years the family raised and sold a few hundred rabbits as a part-time job to teach their son responsibility. Yet the regulators thought otherwise.
Regulators would rather have Americans spend time and money getting the federal government’s permission, rather than take the initiative to produce and build. The Obama Administration, in 2009 alone, published a record-breaking 160,000 pages of rules in the Code of Federal Regulations. As regulation grows, freedom dies and we cannot allow that to happen. It is time that legislators do something about governmental overreach. Since coming to Congress, I have introduced the REINS Act, which I am confident will reduce the power of regulatory bureaucrats and allow the people to act and operate as they please so long as they do not harm others. I have also invited several victims of the federal government’s assault on private property to our nation’s capital. Next week, on Capitol Hill, the people I just told you about will share their stories of regulatory and statutory overreach and the havoc it has created by hindering prosperity and infringing on personal property rights. It is time to bring to light these high-profile cases and start a conversation about how to reform our country’s regulatory system while putting an end to rights-violating groups like the EPA.
With over 100,000 pages of federal regulations telling us how to live our lives, we must make a decision – live freely as long as we don’t infringe on the rights of others or embrace a regulatory bureaucratic state. Choice or control. That is the decision we as Americans must make.
On Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2011, Sen. Rand Paul will host a roundtable forum with fellow Members of Congress to speak with victims of the U.S. government’s multi-pronged assault on private property rights. Below is a list of guests invited to share their stories of regulatory and statutory overreach and the havoc it has created by hindering prosperity and infringing on personal property rights.
Mike and Chantell Sackett
In 2005, Mike and Chantell Sackett of Idaho bought a plot of land with the plans of building a home in a neighborhood where other houses have stood for years. Before beginning work, Chantell made sure to consult with an Army Corps of Engineers official who informed her that they did not need a federal permit. Four years ago they filled the property with dirt and rock preparing to begin construction. Three federal officials showed up and demanded they halt construction claiming the lot was a wetland, protected under the Clean Water Act. The EPA demanded the property to be returned to its original state, meaning hundreds of thousands of dollars to remove the fill material and replanting the vegetation. The Sacketts faced $32,500 in daily fines if they did not comply and criminal liability if they continued construction. Not to mention, the EPA required they fence the property off and submit annual reports on the property’s condition. The Sacketts appealed to the Supreme Court and will be heard this winter in the case of Sackett v. EPA.
Victoria Khoury (Daughter of John Pozsgai)
In 1986, John Pozsgai of Bucks County, Pa., bought an illegal dump across the street from his house. The dump contained a storm water drainage system and storm water drainage ditch that dated back to 1936. The dump was filled with tires, scrap metal, and other objects. He cleaned up the dump with plans to build a 12,500-square-foot building that would expand his business and enhance his community. Within months of acquiring the property, John was contacted by the Army Corps of Engineers informing him of the presence of wetlands. However, he did not fully understand these notices and his lawyer was of no help (the lawyer was later reprimanded for drunkenness in court). In 1987, the Army Corps civilly sued John to restore the property to its previous condition. When John was told by the Army Corps he needed a permit to build his truck repair shop, he obtained a water quality permit from Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Resources, even though the Department of Environmental Resources informed him that the property was not on the National Wetlands Inventory. The Army Corps referred the case to the EPA, who then referred it to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution. During this process, the Army Corps was still asking for more information to process John’s permit. John was then arrested and his home was searched for weapons by two EPA officers. John was sentenced to three years in prison and a $202,000 fine for violating the Clean Water Act. At the time Mr. Pozsgai was sentenced, he was the ‘worst environmental violator’ in the history of the United States.
Peter Nimrod, Chief Engineer of the Mississippi Levee Board
The EPA stopped a vital flood control project in the Mississippi Delta, the Yazoo Backwater Project, claiming it would harm wetlands, leaving the residents of the South Delta the only people in the Mississippi River watershed without effective flood control in place. Under the Clean Water Act (Section 404(r)) the EPA is prohibited from vetoing any project approved by Congress prior to Dec. 27, 1977, when the environmental impacts of the project were made known to Congress before construction began. Such is the case with the proposed pumping station that the EPA is not allowing in the Yazoo Backwater Project. The Board of Mississippi Levee Commissioners is suing the EPA.
Jim Boyd and his family have owned Smith Family Farm in the Chesapeake area of Virginia for more than two decades, but EPA is now trying to claim that it, not the Boyds, controls the property – on the grounds that it is “wetlands.” However, there is no hydrological connection to navigable water. The EPA is violating the Supreme Court’s wetlands definitions in the landmark case of Rapanos v. EPA.
Mayor Tom Moodie
Grand Rivers, a small Kentucky town of 350, has been battling the EPA, the Department of Fish and Wildlife, and archeological groups for over two years as they try to build a new, and badly needed, sewer treatment facility. They are demanding that Grand Rivers spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on impact studies of mussels and archeology before the new plant is built. The city does not have the money for these studies. Also, a few times a year the current plant has to be shut down, forcing them to re-route sewage into the river. The new site for the facility is about half-mile from the current site.
John and Judy Dollarhite
John and Judy Dollarhite of Nixa, Mo., have been sentenced a $90,643 fine from USDA for a “paperwork violation” after the family sold some rabbits to a local pet store. This violation in the Animal Welfare Act was intended to prevent the abuse of animals. Over the past few years the Dollarhites have raised and sold a few hundred rabbits as a part-time job to teach their son responsibility. Local experts praised the Dollarhites for the pristine condition they kept the rabbits in on their three-acre lot where their home sits.