President Obama seeks to extend Clean Water Act protections

CWA Proposal would replace Bush administration policies and resolve ambiguities in U.S. Supreme Court rulings.

04-29-2011 // LA Times, Bettina Boxall

This excerpt is from an article in the LA Times.


Jay Cook Park

More of the West's small streams and wetlands would be protected by the Clean Water Act under an Obama administration proposal announced Wednesday.

The new guidance would replace policies of the President George W. Bush administration and clear up some of the legal murkiness created by two U.S. Supreme Court rulings that threw into question the reach of federal water pollution laws.

The matter has been a contentious one. Agricultural and building interests have fought broader oversight, saying it hinders development and interferes with farm activities. Environmental groups have lobbied for coverage, arguing that intermittent or ephemeral waterways make up the majority of stream miles in the arid West.

"Finally you have an administration stepping up to clarify and restore these protections," said Jan Goldman-Carter, an attorney for the National Wildlife Federation.

But she added that the administration's move would not cover everything affected by the court rulings. "This proposal is still protecting very few of those geographically isolated water bodies."

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