EPA Revises Clean Water Rule

EPA Revises Clean Water Rule

Foul Water or Foul Science?
July 12, 2000

Washington, DC, July 12, 2000 – The Competitive Enterprise Institute charged today that the Environmental Protection Agency’s revision to a Clean Water rule¾the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL)¾is not based on a scientific assessment of water quality.

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“In light of the substantial concerns about the scientific basis of the rule, the EPA’s efforts to ignore the will of Congress and move ahead with the rule is based on politically-motivated, rather than scientifically-based convictions,” stated David W. Riggs, director of land and natural resource policy at CEI.


The U.S. General Accounting Office recently testified before Congress that only 6 out of the 50 states have the data needed to fully assess their waters.  The GAO noted that “key water quality data available to EPA to identify the number of waters not meeting standards are incomplete, inconsistently collected by states, and sometimes based on outdated and unconfirmed sources.”


The EPA notes that its National Water Quality Inventory, which forms the basis of water pollution programs, “may not represent general conditions in the nation’s total waters because states … often focus on surveying [water bodies] with suspected pollution problems.”

In light of the concerns about the quality of the science underlying the rule, Congress moved in a bipartisan manner to block implementation of the TMDL rule as part of an appropriations bill.  However, by finalizing the rule before the President signs the appropriations bill, congressional efforts are rendered meaningless.


“Because water quality is a local issue, lawmakers at both state and federal levels should demand that regulatory decisions be based on sound science, and that all scientific claims be ‘peer reviewed’—examined in depth by outside scientific experts—prior to drafting rules and regulations,” Riggs concluded.  “Without sound science, farmers and consumers of agricultural products will foot the bill for dubious regulations.  Inadequate or scientifically flawed data is no ground upon which to build a regulatory system.”



CEI, a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group founded in 1984, is dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government. For more information, please contact Emily McGee, director of media relations, at 202-331-1010, ext. 209.