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Working Paper

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PSN Subject Matter eJournals; Political Economy - Comparative eJournals; LSN Subject Matter eJournals; Sustainability Research & Policy Network; Management Research Network; Legal Scholarship Network; Entrepreneurship Research & Policy Network; Law School Research Papers - Legal Studies; Corporate Governance Network; SRPN Subject Matter eJournals; Political Institutions eJournals; Political Science Network; Environmental & Natural Resources Law eJournals; Political Economy - Development eJournals


The Clean Water Act of 1972 CWA has produced substantial progress in precisely the areas where Congress expanded the federal government's role in 1972 In the view of Congress many states had failed to adopt implement and enforce adequate standards despite years of federal financial and technical assistance As a result the CWA empowered the US Environmental Protection Agency to take a more direct hand in regulating water pollution from industrial and municipal point sources Although EPA is the senior partner in this new regulatory design the states retain a significant role in its implementation subject to EPA oversight It is this dynamic form of federalism which has proven effectiveUnfortunately Congress failed to apply this new model to two significant sources of water pollution "“ nonpoint source pollution diffuse runoff from for instance agricultural fields and logging operations and hydrologic modifications flow altering activities such as water withdrawals diversions and impoundments Both areas were left primarily in state hands and most states have failed to deal adequately with either problem As a result nonpoint source water pollution is now responsible for over 75 percent of the rivers and streams that are water quality impaired Meanwhile natural stream flows have been altered on 86 percent of our rivers and streams wreaking extensive ecological damage The paper concludes with a number of proposals to increase federal authority over these areas in order to help fill the voids that remain at the heart of the CWA