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

Unequivocally state that to blanket the Nation with a law such as is here proposed, delegating almost despotic power to political officers of the Nation, will work irretrievable loss to the industry which I represent, and will create a threat which cannot but seriously affect the continued production of metals and minerals so essential to the security and prosperity of our people.

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Donald A. Callahan, Wallace, Idaho, Director and Vice President, The American Mining Congress, Idaho Mining Association and the Northwest Mining Association, Testimony, Senate 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

We would strenuously object to any bill that would make it unlawful to allow water from the anthracite mines or breakers to enter the streams adjacent thereto because, as stated herein, they do not adversely affect the streams and there is no other place where these waters can go…..The anthracite industry would be put out of business overnight if such laws were passed and enforced and it would still leave the problem unsolved. If no new source of pollution (especially acid mine water) is permitted, as proposed in H. R. 123, except with final approval of the Surgeon General, it may eventually prevent the opening of new mines, whose mineral products might be sorely needed in our economy, especially in being ready to secure our Nation in its problems of defense.

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Henry H. Otto, Assistant General Manager, The Hudson Coal Co., Scranton, PA on behalf of the Anthracite Institute of Wilkes-Barre, PA., Testimony, House Committee on Public Works.

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