April 6, 2004 |
In the early 1970s, a set of visionary politicians came together to draft one of our nation's cornerstone environmental and public health laws - the Clean Water Act. While the act has made strides in cleaning up America's waterways, we are far from realizing its original vision. About 39 percent of our rivers and 46 percent of our lakes are still too polluted for fishing and swimming. A central reason is that industrial and municipal facilities are discharging pollution in violation of their Clean Water Act permits.
July 3, 2014 |
Everyone thought the question had been answered 42 years ago, with passage of the Clean Water Act: What, exactly, are the waters of the United States - waters that warrant government protection to ensure they are drinkable, fishable, and swimmable? Rivers such as the Delaware, regularly plied by cargo ships? Absolutely. The Schuylkill and major tributaries? No debate. But smaller streams? For federal officials, those are muddy waters. Two U.S. Supreme Court decisions, in 2001 and 2006, showed that the regulations were not as clear as the regulators had thought.
October 17, 1997 |
It was a heads-up - and a celebration. Some of the Delaware River's most determined defenders marshaled at Penn's Landing yesterday to call for renewed steps to keep toxics, sewage and other contaminants out of the region's streams. Environmental groups said continued action was needed to protect the Delaware, the Schuylkill and other rivers, 25 years after the Clean Water Act pumped money and attention into once-grossly polluted waterways. "There was a time in the not-too-distant past that the river was so polluted, its waters darkened ship hulls, caused their paint to peel and clogged ship engine cooling systems," said Maya van Rossum, riverkeeper for the Delaware.
March 23, 1995 |
The federal Clean Water Act yesterday became the next battlefield in the House Republicans' campaign to reduce the impact of regulations on local government and business. Rep. Bud Shuster, a Pennsylvania Republican, presented a 260-page set of amendments, saying that that 1972 law - which protects surface waters from pollution - had created "unacceptable costs and regulatory burdens. " Shuster, who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said his panel will vote on the bill in two weeks.
November 9, 1986
In vetoing the Clean Water Act, President Reagan criticized its price tag: $18 billion spread over eight years. He wanted a $6 billion authorization. But was cost the reason he rejected a bill passed unanimously by Congress, a bill that writes the conclusion to a remarkable environmental success story, a lean bill that by all accounts is the best he can get from Capitol Hill? The answer is no. Mr. Reagan and his close advisers, Chief of Staff Donald T. Regan and Budget Director James C. Miller 3d, remain ideologically bound to the idea that the federal government has no role in improving the environment.
December 2, 1987 |
The Supreme Court, handing a setback to environmentalists, ruled unanimously yesterday that private citizens and groups may not sue polluters for damages for past violations of the U.S. Clean Water Act. Environmentalists said the decision would hamper their efforts to combat water polluters during periods of weak government enforcement. The ruling focused on a provision of the Clean Water Act of 1972, which gives citizens the authority to sue polluters when the government chooses not to do so. But, Justice Thurgood Marshall wrote yesterday for the Supreme Court, citizen suits are intended to stop continuing water pollution, not to remedy past violations.
March 22, 1990 |
Existing federal legislation, combined with new local enforcement powers, will make noncompliance with the federal water-pollution law an expensive proposition for industries in Horsham and other municipalities. Under a proposed ordinance, industries that exceed limits for releases of certain chemicals would be fined by the municipality's sewer authorities up to $6,000 for each day of noncompliance. Horsham's council is likely to approve the ordinance at its meeting, April 9, according to council President James F. Owens.
February 21, 2006
It's become so common, Americans sometimes seem blase when they hear about development plans that might threaten the environment. But court arguments to be made today that could impact every swamp, bog and canal in the nation deserve close attention. The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear two Michigan cases involving attempts to fill in wetlands to build a shopping center and condominiums. The stakes of the cases are enormous. The justices will clarify the 1972 Clean Water Act. Historically, the United States has undervalued the ability of wetlands to filter pollutants, absorb floodwater, cleanse drinking water, shelter birds and wildlife, and provide recreation.
November 23, 1996 |
Waste disposal giant Browning-Ferris Industries has learned the hard way that Clean Water Act violations tied to some illegal dealing can be costly. A subsidiary has agreed to pay a $3 million fine to federal authorities in Philadelphia for Clean Water Act violations, fraud and conspiracy. BFI Services Group, of Houston, also will contribute another $1.5 million toward area environmental restoration projects, a company spokeswoman said. Plus, it will pay restitution of $642,311 to several municipal sewage treatment plants victimized by the scheme, on top of $1.6 million it already has paid to the city of Philadelphia.
January 31, 1995 |
Mayor Rendell has made a side career of speaking out against "unfunded mandates" - federal or state laws local governments must meet. He has "made his point" by fabricating a story about Philadelphia being forced to spend $500 million on a new sewage treatment facility, a tall tale totally untrue. But stories that elicit chuckles on Capitol Hill could lead to policies that would do real damage to the Delaware River, the quality of our drinking water and other areas of public health and environmental quality.