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PNS Daily Newscast - September 18, 2020 

A federal judge slams the brakes on U.S. Postal Service changes nationwide; and we take you to the state 'out front' for clean elections.

2020Talks - September 18, 2020 

Trump slams the 1619 project on Constitution Day, and Pennsylvania's Supreme Court makes some election changes.

Polluters Use Courts to Bypass Clean Water Act

May 24, 2007

Environmental groups say the Clean Water Act needs some cleaning up. A new bill in Congress would clarify what most people already assumed -- that U.S. lakes, streams, rivers and wetlands have federal protection from industrial pollution. But in recent court cases, industries and developers have challenged the 30-year-old law, saying it was only intended to cover "navigable waters." Joan Mulhern, an attorney for the group Earthjustice, says if that's true, then people and fish may be in trouble.

“Even a charitable interpretation of the position of those industries would leave 60 percent of the nation's streams and rivers, and about 20 million acres of wetlands, at least, outside of the protections of the federal Clean Water Act.”

Mulhern emphasizes that the law has been working for more than 30 years, and that changing it would be a step backward for water quality.

“It needs to be settled law again. It doesn't do the country any good to have one of its most important, bedrock environmental laws so up in the air as the Clean Water Act is right now.”

Last year, one developer's case made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where a split decision didn't repeal the act, but didn't redefine it, either. So, Congress has taken on the task. More than 150 lawmakers from both parties have cosponsored the new bill, which is called the "Clean Water Restoration Act."

Washington cosponsors are Reps. Norm Dicks (D-6th District), Jay Inslee (D-1st Dist.) and Jim McDermott (D-7th Dist.)

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - WA