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News & Press: Environmental Protection Issues

Uncertainty Abounds Despite Clean Water Act Update

Monday, July 8, 2019   (0 Comments)
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By The National Law Review

Last month marked the 50-year anniversary of one of the more infamous and impactful environmental disasters to occur in the United States. On June 22, 1969, the Cuyahoga River, which runs through the heart of Cleveland before emptying into Lake Erie, caught fire for the 13th time. Time magazine ran a story that highlighted the river’s severe pollution.1 The national reaction to the story is widely credited as the impetus for the Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972, now known as the Clean Water Act (CWA).2 The objective of the CWA is “to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters.”3 This seemingly straightforward and worthy objective has, however, led to more than 40 years of uncertainty and litigation over what constitutes “the nation’s waters” or “waters of the United States.”

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