“Half of the waters in the United States are at risk of pollution or destructive development because of a wrongheaded Supreme Court decision in 2006,” the New York Times writes in an editorial today. “The decision narrowed the scope of the Clean Water Act, weakened the law’s safeguards and thoroughly confused the federal agencies responsible for enforcing it.”
Before things get any worse, Congress should approve the Clean Water Restoration Act. The bill would reaffirm the broad federal protections that Congress intended when it passed the law in 1972.The 2006 ruling involved a Michigan landowner who had been barred from developing wetlands that had no visible connection to other bodies of water. Pouncing on minor ambiguities, four conservative justices ruled that the Clean Water Act protected only navigable, permanent or continuous flowing waters and adjacent wetlands. Four liberal justices, reflecting the traditional view of the law, said it protected all waters, including isolated wetlands and small, intermittent streams.Read the editorial here.
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