EPA Gives Developers a Free Ride to Pollute Waterways

Regulation Fails to Set Standard for Controlling Stormwater Pollution from Strip Malls and Subdivisions

WASHINGTON (April 2, 2004) - The Environmental Protection Agency issued a "toothless" regulation yesterday that fails to require developers to control water pollution, according to a national conservation group. The group, NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) charged that the new regulation will lead to more beach closings, waterborne disease, flooding, fish kills, and contaminated drinking water supplies. Commercial and residential development is the fastest growing source of water pollution in the nation, NRDC pointed out, and EPA's failure to regulate this pollution, the group charged, violates the law.

"This regulation doesn't protect our water, it protects asphalt," said Nancy Stoner, director of the Clean Water Project at NRDC. "The parking lot lobby will love it, but if you like to swim, fish or drink clean water, this regulation is not for you."

EPA's decision was prompted by a settlement of a 1989 NRDC lawsuit to enforce a Clean Water Act program that requires EPA to set technology standards for controlling water pollution from various industries. The new regulation was supposed to control runoff from residential and commercial development during and after construction projects. "This regulation does neither," said Stoner, "Developers will have a free pass to ruin our water when they're building their roads and shopping malls, and won't have to use proven techniques that keep pollutants from new development out of our waterways."

Pollution from runoff from paved surfaces, such as parking lots, highways and rooftops, is the second largest and fastest growing source of water pollution across the country. EPA's failure to control urban stormwater pollution inevitably will despoil the environmental and threaten public health, particularly in coastal areas, where stormwater already is the largest source of water pollution, and where population is growing rapidly.

"The Bush administration once again is paying back its corporate polluter friends instead of protecting public health and the environment," said Stoner. "Our children and grandchildren will suffer from the Bush EPA's failure to protect our waterways."