SCOTUS decision undermines 50-year-old Clean Water Act

Published 6:31 pm Tuesday, June 6, 2023

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To the Editor:

Clean water is recognized as one of the greatest public health advances of the 20th century.

The Clean Water Act, which passed 50 years ago, set in motion a commitment by the Environmental Protection Agency to ensure public access to clean water for wildlife, drinking, and recreation.

Since the Act’s passage in 1972, communities have seen dramatic improvements in our nation’s waterways across the country – examples that positive, impactful change and conservation are possible with clear Federal safeguards.

As a nurse, I recognize that the US Environmental Protection Agency is a public health agency governed by science with a clear commitment to health and preservation. The Supreme Court has embraced the extreme demands of big polluters and has dramatically narrowed the scope of the Clean Water Act, undoing protections that have safeguarded our waters for over 50 years.

The decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Sackett v. EPA now reduces and undermines necessary and proven protections, leaving the natural water sources open to unregulated and potentially irreparable pollution, destruction, and worsening effects from climate disasters.

Reduction of long-standing and supported federal protections will shift responsibility to individual states to manage their own clean water safeguards, leaving states with lenient regulations vulnerable to polluting industries.

Congress and state officials across the country need to quickly act in the wake of this decision to protect water bodies that our nation relies on for drinking, fishing, and fueling local economies.

Elizabeth Mizelle