Rulings Restrict Clean Water Act, Foiling E.P.A.
The mouth of Avondale Creek in Alabama, into which a pipe maker dumped oil, lead and zinc. A court ruled the waterway was exempt from the Clean Water Act.
By CHARLES DUHIGG and JANET ROBERTS
Thousands of the nation’s largest water polluters are outside the Clean Water Act’s reach because the Supreme Court has left uncertain which waterways are protected by that law, according to interviews with regulators.
As a result, some businesses are declaring that the law no longer applies to them. And pollution rates are rising.
Companies that have spilled oil, carcinogens and dangerous bacteria into lakes, rivers and other waters are not being prosecuted, according to Environmental Protection Agency regulators working on those cases, who estimate that more than 1,500 major pollution investigations have been discontinued or shelved in the last four years.