Restoring the Scope of the Clean Water Act
A Legacy of Protection
The Clean Water Act has been one of the pillars of environmental protection since its enactment in 1972. Its directive to "restore the physical, chemical and biological integrity of our nation's waters" has given the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers a clear mandate to restore water quality, prevent the destruction of wetlands, and ensure that our country's water resources are safe for drinking, recreation, and wildlife.
The Clean Water Act has been under assault by industry forces for the past decade, and Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006 that limited agencies' oversight to “navigable waters” have left our waterways in greater danger than at any time since the 1960s. Vital protections have been removed from 50 percent of the nation's streams and 20 million acres of wetlands, and studies show that the drinking water of 110 million Americans is at risk of contamination. Authorities have little or no ability to prevent the pollution of these waters under current law.
Restoring the Legacy
Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Jim Oberstar (D-MN) have both authored legislation to reassert the original scope of the Clean Water Act and protect all the waters of the United States from degradation. The companion bills would provide protection to federal waters, ensuring clean, safe drinking water for the over 110 million Americans whose drinking supply is currently threatened. LCV urges Congress to pass the Clean Water Restoration Act in the 111th Congress.
Mountaintop Removal Mining
In an effort to mine coal in the cheapest way possible, mining companies in Appalachia have turned to mountaintop removal mining. These companies use massive amounts of dynamite to blow the tops off of mountains to attain thin seams of coal. They then place the leftover waste, full of toxic chemicals, into surrounding streams, destroying fish habitats and poisoning drinking water. To date, more than 500 mountains have been flattened and 2,000 miles of streams have been buried in waste. Bipartisan bills in both the House and Senate would address this problem by prohibiting coal companies from dumping waste into streams. LCV urges the Administration and Congress to end mountaintop removal mining and ensure clean drinking water for Appalachian communities.