The Bush administration could slash a key program of the Clean Water Act requiring federal oversight of states’ efforts to restore polluted bodies of water. About 300,000 miles of rivers and shorelines and 5 million acres of lakes in the U.S. are categorized as “impaired water bodies” in need of remediation, but for decades, some states neglected their cleanup. That began to shift in July 2000, when the Clinton administration took steps to beef up federal enforcement of the cleanups, in response to lawsuits from environmentalists. But farm groups, timber companies, and others who feared tight restrictions on pollution runoff were outraged by the move, and the rule has been kept on hold by the Bush administration. Now, internal U.S. EPA documents suggest the agency will change the rule to “trust states” to clean up their acts. Daniel Rosenberg, an attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, is skeptical: “The Bush EPA must be suffering from collective amnesia. The states had three decades to implement this program and failed.”

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