Clean Water Act

Clean Water Act

The Federal Clean Water Act (CWA) provides the basis for most American water pollution control laws.  Significantly, the Act regulates releases of pollution and toxic substances into waters of the United States and ensures that surface waters are fit for human recreation.  All waters with a “significant nexus” to “navigable waters of the United States” fall under the prevue of the CWA.  However, the term “significant nexus” has been the subject of great legal debate.  Many believe that nonpoint sources of pollution were intended to be covered by the act as well.  However, to date, these sources (most notably large farms) are not subject to provisions of the CWA.

Cry Wolf Quotes

Laws dealing with complex and technical problems were passed with much emotionalism, little debate, and even less of a data base for support.

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Gary D. Knight, Associate Director for Environment, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Chamber of Commerce Public Presentations

Because of our guilt—and because of the media’s espousement (sic) of the movement—laws were passed which asked industry and the American consumer for the impossible. The members [of Congress] admitted they did not know what could actually be done to clean up our environment, how long it would take or how much it would cost. But they went ahead anyway in the spirit of political expediency to ramrod through measures that would affect millions of people and billions of dollars…

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Gary D. Knight, Associate Director for Environment, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Chamber of Commerce Public Presentations

We feel that the new plant should have equipment installed to abate pollution that meets and exceeds the established standards. If I recognize what you are driving at, company XYZ could come out with a piece of equipment that could be extremely expensive that would eliminate all pollution whatsoever and if I were to agree with your question, that would mean that all of your industry would then have to buy that piece of equipment from company XYZ with the basis against all other companies that are producing pollution equipment. I don’t think that is the objective of free enterprise.

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Donald R. Talbot, The National Association of Manufacturers, Testimony, Subcommittee on Air and Water Pollution of the Senate Committee on Public Works
04/20/1970 | Full Details | Law(s): Clean Water Act

Effluent taxes are a license to pollute. If the tax is low or moderate there is little incentive to provide treatment prior to discharge. If the tax is too high some firms, because of size, marginal nature or age, may be forced to close. This can, and does, happen under existing water quality programs. But such shutdowns are directly related to water quality. Shutdowns due to effluent taxes which ignore water quality and produce no tangible benefits are economically and socially unacceptable.

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Edwin A. Locke, Jr., President, American Paper Institute, Testimony, Subcommittee on Air and Water Pollution of the Senate Committee on Public Works.
06/09/1970 | Full Details | Law(s): Clean Water Act

Evidence