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EPA’s secret maps are scary


Many of you have probably heard of the EPA’s push for a new rule titled “Waters of the U.S.” which would expand the agency’s powers of regulation over even very small bodies of water in America including creeks and ditches.

Some lawmakers, including North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer, oppose this rule feeling that it’s far too broad in scope. According to new maps, developed in secret by the EPA to catalog the waters they’d like regulatory authority over, a “Waters of the U.S.” rule would result in the EPA having regulatory authority over pretty much the entire state.

The maps were released to Congress when the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology (of which Rep. Cramer is a member) investigated the matter, and Cramer’s office has released them to the public.

The map for North Dakota shows just how broad the scope of this law could be (high-res version here).


Lakes are in dark blue. Streams and rivers are in light blue. Intermittent bodies of water are in yellow. Obviously, all that yellow is a concern.

Even more troubling is a second map for the EPA’s 8th region, which includes North Dakota. It depicts the “water inventory” for each state. As you can see, pretty much the entire state of North Dakota is colored in blue.

If that’s indicative of what the EPA plans to regulate in North Dakota, it’s hard to imagine what can be done in the state – from construction to energy development to agriculture – without going through the EPA.

Which, no doubt, is the point.

The EPA is denying that the maps have anything to do with the proposed “Waters of the U.S.” rule change, but Cramer and other members of Congress aren’t buying it.

“It is certainly alarming the EPA would develop these maps in secret and only release them after being confronted by members of Congress,” Rep. Cramer said of the maps in a press release. “The EPA has been hiding information which could upset the public and jeopardize its massive power grab of unprecedented authority over private and public water. It doesn’t take much of a leap to conclude these highly detailed maps developed with taxpayer funds are for the purpose of enforcing this rule.”

Is Cramer guilty of alarmism? Can we trust the EPA when they tell us that they aren’t planning a power grab?

The problem with that last question is the words “trust the EPA.” That agency has proven that it deserves the public trust.


    • I have been to Federal EPA training, and spoken one-on-one with the many PhD Scientists, Professors, Environmental Engineers, and Chemists. They are brilliant people, highly educated and play a key part in keeping our environment clean, healthy and sustainable for the current generation, as well as generations to come. The current carbon footprint left by BIG OIL and GAS is what can not always be trusted. So learn the facts and get with the program there in ND before it is too late!

  1. When was the last time the epa did something that really messed with the every day lives of average citizen? Every time something like this comes out everyone gets all excited and it turn out to be either nothing, or it actually helps people and makes things nicer for everyone.
    I am not concerned.

  2. What’s MORE scary than more environmental regulations? The consequences if we don’t adopt them! EPA is finally pressing the issue of reducing CO2 emissions. Better late than never. Now we just need Congress to pass legislation. Currently there are too many republican obstructionists blocking progress. They either deny human-caused climate change is occurring or deny it’s a problem. It doesn’t matter that EVERY respected scientific institution that considered the issue doesn’t agree with them. They prefer to cater to the fossil fuel interest or cling to some political agenda. Never mind that it puts people at risk.

  3. Seems as though there is a major spill of one chemical or another every week in oil country. I’m guessing they will be the ones most affected by the new rules. And rightly so.

  4. It fits into Cramer’s narrative of “govt is bad”. Why do I need to afraid of my own representative govt.? Goof balls like him are turning this country away from the things that make us a great nation. I only fear that he and his Tea Party will someday take over.

  5. More government intervention and not just in ND.

  6. Speaking from experience, the about 15 years ago the epa began to scrutinize feedlot operations in the state. We were all fearfull of them shutting down the entire cattle industry in the state. They targeted those who fed along waterways. Well about that time, our creek that runs through our farm was so polluted you couldn’t see the bottom of a glass of that water. Well now, after the all the feedlots now have lagoons, that creek is clear. I can see the bottom 6 feet deep. I’d call that a success.

  7. If they are allowed to control our waters they have full control over us! The states need to make sure the EPA doesn’t take away control of our own waters.

  8. Considering that most of congressman Cramer’s funding comes from the oil and gas industry, we’re going to have to go with the EPA on that whole trust thing … !

  9. they can not be trusted at all…. power crabbers is all they are….they need to be stopped…. this will happen all over the USA…

    • you mean like the Virginias and Carolinas? most of the water east of the mississippi is undrinkable. I prefer National regulation of our air and water quality for the simple fact that there is no such thing as North Dakota air or water-it’s ALL of our air, All of us use the water and it doesn’t stop flowing because of a line on the map. If we take a pee in the Missouri River in Montana North Dakotans drink it. Use your common sense.

  10. EPA will destroy another industry …..

  11. I am very much for regulating industry to prevent them from poisoning our waters and I believe we should have regulations. There are two side to this though.

    1. The extreme right wing will use any excuse to kill meaningful regulation to protect the majority who are not billionaires from toxic water, birth defects and cancer as they truly care nothing for anyone. Yes they claim Jesus all the time, and proclaim loudly they are for the “people” but laugh at us behind closed doors. If they were as Christian as they claimed, they would know we are to be stewards of the land, not rape it and steal it from others. But the truth is they worship one God only, and his name is Mammon, Devil of money and greed.

    2. Then there is the far left who would drown everyone in rules and laws and regulations “to protect us from ourselves” I am known of several cases where the EPA has sued to bankruptcy many people who have either put in a fish pond on their property without “permission” or cleared a blockage in a stream. On the one hand, I am talking about a small pond fed from a small creek on their property with no harm, but the EPA crushed them in legal bureaucracy. Or where a farmer “not an industrial farmer corporation” was dealing with a beaver dam that was flooding his fields and threatening out houses, and the EPA tied it up in court for so long they had tens of thousands of damage and more in legal fees.

    This is real to me because I want to use green energy and hope to build a flow through “to be mindful of any fish migration” dam and pond for fish and micro hydroelectric for the house.(We are talking a three foot deep pond that a small amount of water would be diverted into, then right back into the stream.) This would decrease the flow only during the time of filling the pond, a couple of days, and this would only decrease by about 20% and even that could be stretched out, but the EPA regulations would make that impossible. Instead I have to use Coal and oil generated electricity and be reliant on power companies that care less and less about their customers and am hostage to their Corporate greed.

    The biggest issue I have with all encompassing rules is that what if the Mammon worshiping far right gain control of the EPA? They would use the rules to crush the average person and seize the land for their corporate cronies while never enforcing the laws on the rich and powerful. After all, when was the last time you heard of a billionaire going to prison for all of their crimes or loosing their land and livelihood?

    No, the only thing we can do is enforce current laws, there are a lot of them that are not enforced, elect moderate decent people, and go back to the taxation rates under President Eisenhower and strip the billionaires of their godlike power they use to subvert our government and destroy America.

    This is a complicated problem, but it all comes down to not having a government that is to powerful, and also not having a small group of Oligarchs that have to much power either.

    Allyn Llyr

  12. The problem is an absence of moral choices, personal integrity and clear thinking that results from a Socialist Democracy. People want the government to “do something about it” which results in legislation that does no one any good. Personal integrity, caring for one’s neighbors and a broadened view of one’s actions and their consequences could easily solve this – but the persons directly involved are afraid to speak among themselves and so the government (in this case the lawyers since most government representatives are lawyers) feels the need to take over. That is Socialism. It is a far cry from a republic. So in this and many similar circumstances we get a Socialist state that degenerates to Fascism and then Communism and then Anarchy – the road down that path is painful and results in the elimination of the ideals we all pretend to hold dear but are unwilling to uphold ourselves. “Let someone else take care of it.” So now we have the only recourse of “following the money” to find out who is behind the negative aspect of this scenario. Remember when the government controls the water supply only those who support and pay the government will benefit from it.

  13. Just what the world needs, more right wing American BS and paranoia.

    Give it a rest, nincompoops!

    Put down the TV remote and turn off the screaming white fools on Murdoch’s merry-go-round of instant inanity.

  14. There’s a big difference between “secret maps” and “maps”. The fact that the EPA develops a map of water, a part of the environment they’re tasked with monitoring, doesn’t mean they’re somehow evil or hiding something. Just because Cramer wasn’t aware that they existed doesn’t make them secret. Cramer isn’t aware of much.

    Rep. Cramer says “It doesn’t take much of a leap to conclude these highly detailed maps developed with taxpayer funds are for the purpose of enforcing this rule.” I disagree. It sounds like a pretty big leap to accuse the EPA, a common Republican target, of creating “secret maps”.

    On the home page of the EPA’s Waters of the U.S. page it clearly states that this rule 1) Does not protect any new types of waters, 2) Does not broaden coverage of Clean Water Act, 3) Does not regulate groundwater and 4) Does not expand jurisdiction over ditches.

    Sounds like an election year “false flag” from Cramer.

    • Do you think the website will tell you a secret topic. The false flag is the propaganda of politicians… There is no other reason to establish an agency than to gain control through regulation, threat of imprisonment and fines unless you conform or pay the tax. Do you honestly believe they are there to solely protect you? Of is it possible that they have been given directives to follow by a man being managed by numerous handlers and financial backing. Just so happens the democrats are backed financially by people like George soros, while republicans have the Koch brothers. One side believes in socialism the other in capitalism… A monkey can figure out which is which. Maybe your right the EPA an arm of the government does not seek control… And if the aren’t what is that agency for?

  15. Why in the world would we give up control of our private property. Once upon a time, wasn’t it illegal to own private property and it was taken away from the owner! Agenda 21 anyone!

  16. Too bad it’s all false. And now the REAL story: Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith and the Republicans are abusing their position to promote absolute and complete falsehoods about the EPA with their deceitful accusations about supposed “secret water maps.”

    First of all, it’s not “EPA data” – it’s a joint project led by USGS, with EPA, states and other agencies contributing, and it’s not “new”, it’s a project that goes back nearly 30 years.

    Second, the data is not “secret” by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, all of this data has been public and has been published for years: http://nhd.usgs.gov/data.html

    Third, it’s not “for the purposes of regulation” nor does it reclassify any streams in any way shape or form – that mapping data is part of the National Map (the digital successor to USGS quad maps), and the data is used for a whole host of things, including being part of what is used in conjunction with stream gauges and other data to protect life and property from flooding and many other things.

    Fourth, despite Republican claims about “regulating ditches” there are no “ditches” in the data – while the mapping is becoming detailed, there is nothing in that data that any reasonable or sensible person would ever refer to as a ditch, in the sense of things like roadside ditches or a diversion ditch. It’s definitely not at that level of detail. In fact, the maps offer the following caveat right in them: “NHD data typically does not capture streams under one mile in length.” The data also does not in any way shape or form specifically address oil and gas activities.

    Fifth, there’s no associated “stealing land” going on as has been suggested by various breathless property-rights hysterics.

    Sixth, the National Wetlands Inventory map is also neither new nor secret, nor run or developed by the EPA. It’s run by Fish & Wildlife. http://www.fws.gov/wetlands/Data/Mapper.html

    All of this is information that anyone can independently verify with google and just a few seconds of work searching for “National Hydrology Dataset” – and having already pointed this out to Chairman Lamar Smith and Congressman Kevin Cramer, they no longer have plausible deniability on this, which leaves one to then conclude that they are is at this point deliberately misleading people here – and worse yet, colluding to do so. And I’m not the only one who caught them on this: http://mediamatters.org/blog/2014/09/02/right-wing-watchdogs-push-bogus-epa-map-conspir/200602

  17. It seems that bureaucracies like the EPA run on public sentimentalism and so do election campaigns. However I feel the EPA is stretching the boundaries about what it can regulate, and probably needs to be told “no”. It’s not about trust, more about what a federal bureaucracy can effectively do. In this case it’s trying to drive a finishing nail with a wrecking ball.

  18. You can’t believe the EPA, if they tell you that the sky is blue!!!

  19. They want control of streams, rivers, rain water, everything. Look at their website.

  20. No look at California. Under EPA rules

  21. A power grab for what? To keep unscrupulous corporations from poisoning everyone’s water just to line their shareholders’ pockets? That isn’t a power grab; it’s actually their job.

  22. All you have to do, is give them an inch, and they will take a mile.. This happened years ago with the Game and Fish, and Corp of Engineers.. It was agreed that better control of the shorline areas in N.D needed control, so we gave them their inch. Years later, they took their mile, by shutting down camping areas along the shorelines, closing boat ramps that I pay for in tax dollars, and my fishing and hunting license. Anymore, it will cost you an average of around 5-8$, just to launch your boat. And if you have a family that likes camping, that is not free anymore either, you are being forced to camp in state approved parks, which you pay for not only in taxes every year, but every night you stay. Im sorry to those which disagree with these remarks, but it is more offensive, when the state you were born and raised, and pay dearly in taxes to, charges you an arm, and a leg, to do the one thing that this state used to be held together by, and that would be family, and the outdoors. I agree control would be great, but why do we have to give away something thats ours, to somebody else to control? Is it worth that risk?

  23. No way! EPA isn’t capable of shutting the bakken down

  24. And it’s a conspiracy theory when people say the government has gone to far. Pick an agency and you will find a secret map they don’t want you to see

  25. I think that when dealing with an agency that has a track record for power grabs and shutting down things that it does not like like the EPA does a prudent person assumes the worst case.

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