Posts Tagged: Clean Water Act

EPA troubled by Wisconsin’s clean water regs

In 1974, Wisconsin became the sixth state in the country to administer its own water pollution regulations under a clause in the federal Clean Water Act. Lee Bergquist of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that this arrangement has proven problematic: the U.S. EPA wrote a letter to the Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources two weeks ago that cites 75 apparent omissions and deviations from federal law.

The important issue here is whether Wisconsin is keeping its water clean. Judging from Bergquist’s piece, though, the EPA might be more upset with Wisconsin’s processes and protocols than the effect of regulating in a different way.

Power of reporting evident on fracking radiation dangers

Aggressive, in-depth reporting is essential to push government agencies to act, as Ian Urbina ‘s recent article in the New York Times about contamination of water used in the hydraulic fracturing process makes clear.  Today Urbina has a follow-up article describing efforts by the EPA to make sure that water at waste treatment plants in the U.S. is being tested for radiation.  Following Urbina’s first article, EPA reacted — in what surely was not a coincidence — with a new effort to make sure laws about water treatment standards are being followed. (more…)

Clean Water Act can only work if it’s enforced

The Springfield State Journal-Register ran an interesting editorial arguing that rollbacks in the federal Clean Water Act have severely hurt Illinois.  Keith Bolin, President of the American Corn Growers Association, and Bruce Ratain, field associate with Environmental Illinois, point out that in 2001 and 2006 the Supreme Court exempted many waterways from the Clean Water Act, which is (more…)

EPA: Make the Chicago River less gross

Chicago River

EPA wants to use the Clean Water Act to clean up the Chicago River. The Chicago Tribune’s Michael Hawthorne got his hands on a letter EPA sent to Illinois saying that it wants the state to clean up a river that in the 19th Century was engineered into a sewage canal.

Under the Clean Water Act, all waterways must be safe for “recreation,” i.e. fishing and swimming. The Chicago River is filthy largely because Chicago is the only major city in the country that doesn’t disinfect wastewater pumped back into the environment. (more…)

When It Comes to Clean Water Regs, EPA Can’t Even Get Its Feet Wet

Here is a classic case of people fearing a world of all-powerful federal government regulators when the reality is that federal government regulators are timid and ineffectual. The New York Times’ Charles Duhigg and Janet Roberts have a piece that pretty explicitly argues that two Supreme Court decisions (from 2001 and 2006) have prevented the Environmental Protection Agency from effectively enforcing the Clean Water Act. Thanks to the Supreme Court, EPA can only regulate a narrow set of “navigable waterways” meaning, “About 117 million Americans get their drinking water from sources fed by waters that are vulnerable to exclusion from the Clean Water Act.” (more…)