Investigation finds Clean Water Act enforcement ‘decimated’ since 2006

By Barbara KesslerGreen Right Now

What happens when regulation takes a holiday? Financial institutions run amok, industry encroaches on national parks, endangered wildlife is left in the lurch, and apparently, too, the nation’s water is put at risk.

This week, two Congressional leaders, Henry Waxman, (D-Calif.) and James Oberstar (D-Minn.) unveiled the results of their joint investigation into the Clean Water Act, which shows that there has been a recent, dangerous lack of enforcement of the Clean Water Act.

In a letter to President Elect Barack Obama, the two lawmakers explained that since a 2006 Supreme Court decision narrowed the scope of the Clean Water Act, making it more difficult to assemble a case against clean water violators, hundreds of enforcement actions have been stalled or sidelined.
All told, the report discovered that some 500 potential clean water cases have been dropped or put on hold since the court’s ruling in Rapanos v. United States, a case that asked whether certain wetlands that empty into a river in Michigan were subject to federal clean water protections. That decline in enforcement represents roughly a halving of enforcement actions.