The Evolution of Water Pollution Control in the United States - State, Local, and Federal Efforts, 1789-1972: Part I
57 Pages Posted: 8 Jun 2004
This is the first article in a two-part series that explores the trends and developments that eventually led Congress to enact one of the most complex and significant pieces of legislation in history, the Clean Water Act. It examines the way in which water pollution evolved from a relatively simple local issue in the early years of the Republic into a complex state and regional problem by 1920. The article then examines the development of state regulation from 1869 to 1972 - an account that covers the evolution of state agencies and regulatory innovations such as water quality standards and uniform effluent limitations. The new regulatory devices, however, failed to fulfill their promise. Faced with powerful, concentrated opposition from industry and many municipalities, the states were reluctant to apply them comprehensively and were generally unwilling to take vigorous enforcement action, preferring instead informal cooperation and voluntary compliance. By the 1960s, the public's tolerance for this kind of incremental and largely ineffective approach was wearing thin. The second article, which was published at 22 Stanford Environmental Law Journal 215 (2003), explores the story of federal action between 1879 and 1972 and concludes with an extensive look at the legislative history of the 1972 Clean Water Act.
Keywords: Environmental Law, Water Pollution, Environmental History, Clean Water Act, Legal History, Environmental Law and Policy
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