While Bush has gotten some good ink the last few days for proclaiming a new commitment to combating global climate change (even though all he’s really said is that he wants non-binding rules adopted in 2008), the true face of this administration’s views on the environment can be better gleaned from the new guidelines written by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers which effectively guts the Clean Water Act by making it directly apply only to bodies of waters large enough to accommodate boats (and directly adjacent wetlands). Any other body of water (like say, a stream my kids might play in) can only be covered on a case-by-case basis in the court system. This change in enforcement is the direct result of a recent Supreme Court case in which (unsurprisingly) justices Roberts, Alito, Scalia, and Thomas argued that the phrase ‘the waters of the United States’ covers
only those relatively permanent, standing or continuously flowing bodies of water “forming geographic features” that are described in ordinary parlance as “streams,” “oceans, rivers, [and] lakes,” Webster’s New International Dictionary 2882 (2d ed.), and does not include channels through which water flows intermittently or ephemerally, or channels that periodically provide drainage for rainfall.
How odd (or not) that on the very same day these rules went into effect, the EPA announced a report stating that “More than one-third of the coastal waters that link America’s rivers and oceans are in poor condition”.
Now seriously. Who doesn’t want clean water? Who can argue that keeping our creeks, estuaries, streams, and watersheds isn’t in this country’s best interest? Thankfully, there’s no shortage of legislators who are looking to codify the inclusion of all other bodies of water.
In other news, listening to the FCC chairman Kevin Martin whine about the recent Federal Appeals Court ruling which decided (quite rightfully) that the FCC’s current guidelines and standards regarding profanity in broadcast were both “arbitrary and capricious” makes me want to stab someone in the eye. Toeing the social conservative line that the exposure to bad language (not to mention boobies) via television leads to brain a’splosion, explosive soul diarrhea, and the heartbreak of gingivitis (isn’t that right, Britain?), Martin released a statement (curiously filled no shortage of bad language) containing such gems as
“I find it hard to believe that the New York court would tell American families that ‘shit’ and ‘fuck’ are fine to say on broadcast television during the hours when children are most likely to be in the audience”
Personally, I find that the FCC’s position that the terms ‘shit’ and ‘fuck’ ALWAYS constitute a reference to intercourse or defecation (and thereby designed to titillate and arouse) to be only slightly less moronic an idea than a robot lawnmower that runs on baby flesh. Even a usage stickler like me is aware that language is an evolving beast, and that context is the key to definition. The fact that the FCC has equated the language contained in Saving Private Ryan with the dialogue of Shaving Ryan’s Privates is almost too ludicrous to contemplate. Thankfully, the Federal Appeals court not only smacked down the FCC for using an overly broad standard, the decision went so far as to suggest that the current rules were guaranteed to be unworkable in practice and should be overhauled almost completely.
So to that I can only say, in the words of American hero Gus Grissom, ’Fuckin’ A‘.