The Clean Water Act of 1972 was a landmark bill that set out to limit and eventually end pollution of Waterways in The United States. In the end hoping to make it so all waterways are safe to fish and swim. The bill has accomplished many of its goals but many say it has fallen short of doing what it was supposed to do.
Created by jwp713 on 10/11/2009
Last updated: 12/03/10 at 21:32
U.S. Supreme Court rules in a 6-3 decision that Coeur Alaska Inc. can dump 210,00 gallons of waste per day into Lower Slate Lake in Alaska. The waste was identified as containing aluminum, copper, lead, and mercury.
The ruling stated that under The Clean Water Act permit system the dumping is legal. Not only did it rule that the dumping was legal but the ruling stated that in this case the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and not the EPA had the authority to issue the permits.
The dissenting members of the court provided a frightening dissenting opinion - "A discharge of a pollutant, otherwise prohibited by firm statutory command, becomes lawful if it contains sufficient solid matter to raise the bottom of transformed into a waste disposal facility. Whole categories of regulated industries can thereby gain immunity from a variety of pollution-control standards. The loophole would swallow not only standards governing mining activities … but also standards for dozens of other categories of regulated point sources."
http://oyez.com/cases/2000-2009/2008/2008_07_984 , http://washingtonindependent.com/48332/supreme-court-decimates-clean-water-act
U.S. Sen Russ Feingold (D - WI) introduces bill to amend Clean Water Act by redefining "waters of the United States" with the goal of strengthening protections of our waterways.
U.S. Rep Frank Pallone (D - NJ.) introduces bill that would redefine "fill material" in the clean water act in hopes of stopping the act of mountain top removal mining. A practice where mountain tops are literally blown off with explosives to ease coal mining difficulties and improve mining efficiencies. This type of mining is often cited by communities as a source of air and water pollution.
"In the EPA's 2002 National Water Quality Inventory report, EPA summarized that 40 percent of the nation’s impaired rivers and streams could trace the source of pollution to agricultural activities, such as crop production, grazing, and animal feeding operations." -- U.S Rep. James L. Oberstar (D - Minn.), chairman of Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure in a 2008 report, "Stagnant waters: The Legacy of the Bush Administration on the Clean Water Act.
The EPA states that the, "law required EPA to establish water quality criteria for the Great Lakes addressing 29 toxic pollutants with maximum levels that are safe for humans, wildlife, and aquatic life." This act strengthened the agreement between Canada and the U.S. to regulate toxins being deposited into the Great Lakes.
Congress responds to stormwater problems by requiring municipalities and industries to obtain permits for storm water runoff. Despite this advance a loophole remains for agriculture as they are not required to get a permit to pollute.
The fund was authorized in the Water Quality Act of 1987. The fund provides federal funds and loans, at a lower than market rate, to states for distribution to local municipalities to address wastewater treatment and non point source pollution control. In 2008 the EPA provided $68.8 billion in assistance.
An important 1977 amendment set forth a series of groundbreaking developments, directly quoted here from the EPA Web site
* Established the basic structure for regulating pollutants discharges into the waters of the United States.
* Gave EPA the authority to implement pollution control programs such as setting wastewater standards for industry.
* Maintained existing requirements to set water quality standards for all contaminants in surface waters.
* Made it unlawful for any person to discharge any pollutant from a point source into navigable waters, unless a permit was obtained under its provisions.
* Funded the construction of sewage treatment plants under the construction grants program.
* Recognized the need for planning to address the critical problems posed by non point source pollution.
The Clean Water Act was passed in 1972 in response to growing pollution in our waterways. According to the EPA, in 1972 two thirds of American waterways were unsafe for fishing and swimming.
"The objective of the Act is to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation's waters. In order to achieve this objective, the Act sets two goals. The first national goal is the elimination of the discharge of all pollutants into the navigable waters of the United States by 1985. The second national goal is an interim level of water quality that provides for the protection of fish, shellfish, and wildlife and recreation by July 1, 1983." -- EPA