An internal E.P.A. report furnished to Congress last year revealed that the agency had dropped or delayed more than 400 cases involving suspected violations of the law — nearly half the agency’s entire docket. The reason in every instance was that regulators did not know whether the streams and wetlands in question were covered by the law.I agree with this interpretation of the way that the original clean water act has been weakened.
Until the two Supreme Court rulings, the Clean Water Act had been broadly interpreted by courts and by federal regulators to shield all the waters of the United States — seasonal streams and remote wetlands as well as large navigable rivers and lakes — from pollution and unregulated development. The assumption was that even the smallest waters have some hydrological connection to larger watersheds and therefore deserve protection. The Supreme Court, however, exploiting ambiguities in the law, effectively decreed that only navigable, permanent water bodies deserve protection.
As a result, at least 20 million acres of wetlands and as much as 60 percent of the nation’s small streams have been left unprotected, while effectively shutting down enforcement actions against developers who have been disturbing or plan to disturb these waters without a permit.
The Clean Water Restoration Act would establish, once and for all, that federal protections apply to all waters, as Congress intended in 1972. Now a new Congress and a new White House must ensure that it becomes law.
Does anyone have evidence of harm (besides delays in/cost increases for development) caused by the original act?
Bottom Line: A clean water act should promote CLEAN water!