Clean Water at Risk
A 30th Anniversary Assessment of the Bush Administration's Rollback of Clean Water Protections
Thirty years ago, the United States Congress confronted stark choices about the future of America's waterways and drinking water. Faced with President Richard Nixon's veto of the long-debated Clean Water Act of 1972, Congress mustered overwhelming majorities in both houses for a dramatic override. The result was a sharp departure in clean water policy, a turning point in the environmental movement, and, as the law began to do its work, a quantum improvement in the safety and environmental health of the nation's waterways. In the years since, the Clean Water Act has come to be a model for every subsequent environmental law.
Ironically, on this 30th anniversary of the October 1972 passage of the Clean Water Act, the Bush administration is working to hobble the law. It is planning or has already taken a variety of steps to delay or derail the cleanup of impaired waters, to allow the dumping of solid wastes into waterways, to reduce protection for wetlands, and to weaken requirements for the treatment of raw sewage. It has even worked to make many currently protected rivers, lakes, wetlands, and other waterways ineligible for federal protection.
The necessary course for protection of America's waterways is clear. The United States can ill afford to allow its waters to become increasingly polluted and dangerous. Instead, the Bush administration's retreat from the national commitment to healthy and safe water should be rejected, and the business of cleaning and protecting the nation's water resumed.
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