Earlier this year, President Obama's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a draft rule to arbitrarily expand the Clean Waters Act beyond its current applicability to navigable waters and, once again, without any Congressional approval. Under the proposed rule, the EPA would now control access to both intermittent and permanent sources of water; even if that water exists on private property. So, if there's a pond out there that only forms after a rainfall, but is mostly dry the rest of the time, it will now be regulated by the EPA.
The justification being used by the Obama Administration for expanding the Clean Waters Act is that we need to insure access to clean drinking water and available and uncontaminated water sources for farming. However, I believe there is an alternative motive behind this ruling and why the President doesn't want Congress involved, and that is so they can effectively shutdown oil drilling, and especially, hydraulic fracturing; or, what is commonly called fracking.
We all know the old story that oil and water don't mix. But, when it comes to drilling for oil, a lot of water, mixed with clay and lubricants, is needed to cool and lubricate the rotary drilling heads and vacate the hole of any debris as the drill head bores its way through thousands of feet of soil and rock. Now, usually, when the drilling is completed, and oil is found, this "mud" (the water, clay, lubricants, and cleared debris) is no longer needed. But, not in the case of fracking. Once the the drilling reaches the desired depth and sideways location, water is again, mixed with things like sand and chemicals, and is then pumped into the drilled earth at very high pressures. In doing so, the shale rock is fractured and the oil or natural gas, contained within that shale, is released. And the fracking continues until there is no more oil to be extracted.
So, I think it is highly likely that Obama will use the expansion of the Clean Waters Act to minimize any access to water for the purpose of fracking, or even, simply drilling for oil. Unfortunately, oil and gas aren't the only operations that require water. Coal, too, requires water to cool and lubricate its drilling bits. So, I wouldn't doubt that the denial of access to water for all three of these fossil fuel operations is one of the first things that the EPA will do with their new found powers. I also would expect that, when the EPA is taken to court over the expansion of the Clean Waters Act, Obama will, once again, find himself on the losing end of trying to legislate without Congress.
Clean Water Act proposal would protect more water sources in West: http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-epa-waters-20140326-story.html
Drowning our property rights: EPA's misuse of the Clean Water Act: http://thehill.com/opinion/op-ed/218663-drowning-our-property-rights-epas-misuse-of-the-clean-water-act
Explained: Oil and Gas Development Using High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing: http://www.watershedcouncil.org/learn/hydraulic-fracturing/
Explained: Oil Drilling: http://www.scienceclarified.com/Mu-Oi/Oil-Drilling.html