Water Pollution Control Act of 1948

Water Pollution Control Act of 1948

The Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1948 was the first major law enacted by Congress to address the problems of water pollution in the United States. It did little to control pollution, gave only limited authority to the federal government, and provided an extremely cumbersome enforcement mechanism. In 1972 Congress totally rewrote the act to provide adequate protection for the nation's waters. The legislation applied only to interstate waters, eliminating from protection heavily polluted waters that were wholly contained within one state.

Cry Wolf Quotes

Experience has also shown that there is another aspect of the problem which, by exciting hasty and improvident legislation, delays progress. I refer to the unpleasant connotation which surrounds the word ‘pollution.’ The public is likely to think of that word in terms of sewage and epidemics. I am told, however, that industrial waste is not a menace to public health….it is sewage which does the harm....

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E. W. Tinker, Executive Secretary of the American Paper and Pulp Association, Testimony, Subcommittee of the Committee on Public Works

If you were to force the industry to spend $300,000,000 or 50 cents on every ton they mined, you would destroy the industry.… I am sure that the committee realizes that the very life of many industries is involved in this question of industrial pollution. In the first place, industrial America, with its hundreds of billions of dollars at stake, is in fact the backbone of our American way of life.

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Harry Gandy, Jr., National Coal Association, Testimony, House Committee on Public Works

There are economic variables also. For one or two mills, the sale of a byproduct may help finance a method of treatment, the cost which is otherwise prohibitive. Because the quantities are huge, however, the market for the byproduct is soon saturated; other mills must find some other method. Again, the cost of treatment for one mill may be so great compared to the cost for others as to destroy its ability to compete, resulting in ruin for the investors and migration for the employees.

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E. W. Tinker, Executive Secretary of the American Paper and Pulp Association, Testimony, Subcommittee of the Committee on Public Works

At this time, when the Government and the citizens are vitally concerned with the reduction of public expense and when the already overburdened taxpayers are protesting against the continuation of unnecessary taxes, it would be unwise to pass such bills which would launch the Government into the establishment of one more Federal bureau whose maintenance would cost the taxpayers a staggering sum.

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Independent Petroleum Association of America, Mid-Continental Oil and Gas Association, National Petroleum Association and the Western Petroleum Refiners Association, Testimony, House Committee on Public Works.