EPA Analysis Finds Clean Water Act Changes Would Cause Major Setback

An internal analysis conducted by the U.S. EPA has found that a Bush administration plan to alter clean water rules could result in more than half of the mid-Atlantic’s streams and one-third of its wetlands losing protection under the federal Clean Water Act. That, in turn, would leave more than 3 million people reliant on drinking water supplies that were not protected by pollution regulations, according to the EPA analysis. At issue is a proposal, unveiled in January, that would make Clean Water Act protections inapplicable to most intrastate, nonnavigable wetlands and headwater streams. The EPA’s analysis of the likely impacts of that proposal found that it would “have serious effects on the progress made during the last 30 years to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the nation’s water.” That information, however, was not included in the public record the EPA is compiling on the proposed policy change; instead, it was released to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation under the Freedom of Information Act.