A coalition of leading environmental groups last week released a report detailing the how recent Supreme Court decisions have substantially weakened the protections laid out in the Clean Water Act. It highlights the urgent need for Congress to act immediately to neutralize various threats to our nation's watersheds and coastlines. The report, entitled "Courting Disaster: How the Supreme Court Has Broken the Clean Water Act and Why Congress Must Fix It," was prepared by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Clean Water Action, Earthjustice, Environment America, the National Wildlife Federation, the Sierra Club, and the Southern Environmental Law Center.
According to NRDC, Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006—and subsequent policies implemented by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers—"shattered the fundamental framework" of the Clean Water Act. "The floodgates are now open for polluters to use the chaotic legal state to thwart enforcement and clean up efforts, and actively pollute the waters where we fish, swim, boat, and drink," adds the group.
The report itself details some 30 cases of abuse of the nation's waters as a result of the weakening of the Clean Water Act under President Bush. The groups are calling on Congress to pass new legislation tightening regulations on the dumping and discharge of pollutants in or near any of the nation's waterways and coastlines.