Think Freedom on the 4th of July? Think Again!

Written by Suzanne Olden on July 2, 2014

The 4th of July, or Independence Day, is the day when most Americans think of and at least for a day, cherish their freedoms. Unfortunately, they have been slowly giving those freedoms up, bit by bit. Here’s another example of how our freedoms are eroded by the overreach of the Executive branch.

238 years ago the Founding Fathers started a great nation. We fought a long and bloody battle to secure certain freedoms that are now enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution: Life, liberty and property… the pursuit of happiness. Freedoms to worship, speak, write (free press), gather, address government with our complaints, bear and keep arms, not incriminate ourselves in court, etc. The right to live as free people without government intrusion into our homes and daily lives is what that rag-tag band of rebels fought to establish. They were David, fighting the Goliath that was the British military. We persevered and we won.

That is cause for celebration, and we remember that each year on July 4th. The usual way? Picnics, barbeques and fireworks! But, don’t count on those fireworks if they happen to fall over a body of water… a branch of the Executive – the Environmental Protection Agency, a regulatory agency ultimately controlled by the President via his Cabinet, has decided that you might not be seeing those fireworks. Why? The Clean Water Act, and their attempt to expand their authority by expanding the definition of “waters of the United States.”

Environmentalists love to use the EPA to force themselves on the rest of us. Fireworks shows are a perfect example. They have sued using the Clean Water Act to shut down the once a year shows saying the shows allow unpermitted discharge of pollutants into our federally protected waters. One example is the City of Lake Tahoe, California. Environmentalists sued the city, alleging their fireworks show violated the Clean Water Act. The City settled it and no longer holds the fireworks show that it held for decades.

Federally protected waters don’t cover ditches, natural and man-made ponds, streams, lakes, wetlands and local bodies of water, including those on private land. The EPA wants to extend the Clean Water Act to all bodies of water in the US, no matter where they are. It is a clear violation of private property protections, and a giant overreach by a bloated government, drunk on its own power. It would expose private landowners and small towns and cities across America to costly litigation and fines for doing nothing more than they have once a year for decades: holding patriotic 4th of July fireworks shows, something that has been a part of our history and traditions since our founding.

In March, the EPA published its proposed “waters of the United States” rule, claiming it was doing so to “clear up confusion surrounding two federal court decisions on the agency’s Clean Water Act authority.” Hardly, it’s a power grab by an EPA gone wild under Obama’s administration. The draft rule defines “waters of the United States” as “traditional navigable waters; interstate waters, including interstate wetlands; the territorial seas; impoundments of traditional navigable waters, interstate waters, including interstate wetlands, the territorial seas, and tributaries, as defined, of such waters; tributaries, as defined, of traditional navigable waters, interstate waters, or the territorial seas; and adjacent waters, including adjacent wetlands.”

Ok, landlocked ponds and lakes aren’t “navigable” so no worries, right? Wrong. The EPA says that other waters could be regulated if they have a “significant nexus” to a “traditional navigable water, interstate water, or the territorial seas.” The EPA says it will provide a definition of “significant nexus” when the rule is published, or in plain English, make it up as they go along.

Rep. Lamar Smith (TX-R) is protesting this move, and stated: “In preparing this proposal, the EPA failed to incorporate adequate peer-reviewed science in accordance with the agency’s own statutory obligations. It’s troubling that the Administration proposed this expansion before its independent science advisers have had the chance to complete its review of the underlying science. The Obama administration continues to sidestep scientific integrity in order to fast track an abusive regulatory agenda.”

Indeed, Mr. “I’ll use my pen” doesn’t want any pesky real science getting in his way. Now I’m not saying that the flotsam from fireworks may not have a bit of questionable materials that can get in the water. I’m certainly aware that metals are used in the fireworks to get the pretty colors, but once a year is that problematic? This is nothing more than overreach by an administration that constantly scoffs at any kind of patriotism.

It’s time we realize that allowing regulatory bodies that don’t answer to the voters is what our Founders had in mind. I’m guessing they’d all be spinning 180 degrees in their collective graves!

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Suzanne Reisig Olden is a Catholic Christian, Conservative, married mother of two, who loves God, family and country in that order. She lives northwest of Baltimore, in Carroll County, Maryland. She graduated from Villa Julie College/Stevenson University with a BS in Paralegal Studies and works as a paralegal for a franchise company, specializing in franchise law and intellectual property. Originally from Baltimore, and after many moves, she came home to raise her son and daughter, now high school and college aged, in her home state. Suzanne also writes for The Firebreathing Conservative website ( and hopes you'll come visit there as well for even more discussion of conservative issues.