The Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act of 2011 (H.R. 2018)—a bill that if it were to become law would serve as the most severe assault on the Clean Water Act (CWA) in years—passed out of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Wednesday on a 35-19 vote.
Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John L. Mica (R-Fla.) introduced the bill as a way to curb what he called the EPA’s “regulating regime,” which he says stymies economic growth.
Yet the bill severely limits the EPA’s ability to ensure important clean water standards for the entire nation. Under H.R. 2018, the EPA is stripped of its authority under the CWA to implement water quality standards without state-by-state approval. Steve Fleischli of the National Resource Defense Councilexplains that the bill amends the CWA to:
The Clean Water Act was implemented in 1972, after a series of horrifying environmental incidents—including the polluted Cuyahoga River catching fire—demonstrated the need for stronger federal waterway protections.
Former Reporter Richard Ellers dips his hand into the polluted Cuyahoga River.
The photo was taken in the 1960’s, before federal standards mandated clean water policy.
Plain Dealer file photo.