COMMENTARY | An Associated Press survey, reported in Yahoo News, touted some results that might surprise political observers. It showed that liberals and Tea Party fans have very similar views about the enhanced surveillance conducted by the National Security Agency (NSA). Their views are much more in tune than even liberals and Democrats, or Tea Party and Republicans.
But NSA spying isn’t the only link between liberals and Rand Paul/Ted Cruz libertarians. In Georgia, the Sierra Club is teaming up with the Tea Party on property rights involving water.
Neill Herring, who is with the Sierra Club, told a gathering of college students and members of the community about legislation in the Georgia General Assembly. But the most shocking information he provided was about this new alliance, linking some of the most liberal and most conservative people in politics.
“Western water laws are primarily based on mining laws, where water was treated like a mineral,” Herring said. “If you got there first, it was yours. You could do whatever wanted to do with it, and send it downstream.”
But what does Georgia have? “Georgia, like many Eastern states, has ‘regulated riparian laws….based on English Common Law,” Herring noted. “Everyone owning property has access to water. It’s a public good. We have some droughts and floods, but not the political stuff and fighting out West. Sierra Club is defending the law. We thought we had won big in the past, but we’re dealing with some pretty stubborn people.”
Why does some in the state want to change the law? “You can make a lot of money selling water,” Herring went on. “It’s an essential resource. Greed is a huge motivator. Our dome is golden not because it is a pretty color. Some are subtly pushing for Western water law.”
So why have the Tea Party members formed an alliance with the Sierra Club? After all, aren’t libertarians all about private water use? “The right of exclusive use means you can exclude others from using water. No one else can use it.” And that includes private property owners with river access.
Herring cited the example of Senate Bill 213. A group is proposing to build a reservoir above Lake Lanier, which would pipe water down to the lake, and the Chattahoochee River. That would give like the owners of the reservoir all the water rights in the Lake, and control of water to every house and property downstream. And that, some believe, completely tramples the rights of those downstream property owners.
“These are Kelo type cases, where property owners are facing eminent domain,” Herring continued. “The Tea Party supports us on SB 213. They work hard for us. They are a new ally.”
Sounding like a Tea Party member, Herring quoted from Thomas Hobbes’ The Leviathan. “Every tyrant has taken rights using the excuse of protection for you. We’re focused as much on property rights, not just saving species.”
Mark Woodall, also with the Sierra Club, also emphasized the need to contact legislative officials, and the impact such calls and emails have. “Battles aren’t just in Washington, DC. They are in the state capitals as well, like Atlanta.”