The Bush Administration has weakened the maw of the Clean Water Act, a number of environmentalists and congressmen believe. They hope that President-Elect Barack Obama can provide a quality set of dentures and a stronger jaw for the legislation.
In a letter to Obama, Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman and Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James L. Oberstar recount the ways in which the act no longer protects U.S. waters from industrial and agricultural pollution.
“One of the legacies of the Bush Administration is its failure to protect the safety and health of the nation’s waters,” said Waxman in a press release. “Our investigation reveals that the clean water program has been decimated as hundreds of enforcement cases have been dropped, downgraded, delayed, or never brought in the first place. We need to work with the new Administration to restore the effectiveness and integrity to this vital program.”
In June of 2006, the Supreme Court made a historically significant decision that complicated jurisdiction and enforcement of the Clean Water Act. In the case of Rapanos v. United States, they limited the Clean Water Act to navigable waterways. It formerly covered all United States waters.
From Dallas to Denver, from San Francisco to Kansas City and from Seattle to Atlanta the chairmen gathered complaints from EPA field staff of crucial projects and investigations put on hold interminably. In their letter to Obama, Waxman and Oberstar explain how the results of their investigation contrast with EPA reports — that the changes are far more significant than the administration admits.
Inset image from the Office of the White House; reproduced copyright free.