Thursday, April 27, 2006

Litigation Win Will Not Clean Congressional River

Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund on behalf of Friends of the Earth and others won another lawsuit that will not result in any improvements in the Anacostia River, which runs within view of the House of Representatives. The court victory hinged upon the meaning of the word 'daily.' EPA wanted seasonal aggregation of daily measurements of pollutants and the litigating enviro groups wanted daily to be daily measurements. EPA runs the Clean Water Act mandated Total Maximum Daily Loads Program (fact sheet), which monitors the daily dumping loads in an effort to protect rivers from too much pollution. The problem is that billions of dollars would be needed in the form of grants to states and DC to appropriately retrofit stormwater and wastewater effluents. And then there are farms and other nonpoint sources of nitrogen and poison runoff that would need to be adequately managed.

The symbolic win in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit did provide another opportunity for the anti-Bush media to smear the President's EPA with headlines such as, "More Lawlessness at EPA." AAEA hates this litigation dance, whether it involves clean air or water regulations. Such litigation is an industry inside the Beltway but never seems to lead to cleaner water or air. Massive retrofits and huge public works projects and not litigation will clean up the 'other river.'

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