WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, responded to the ruling of the Supreme Court of the United States that the discharge of polluted water into the ground, rather than directly into nearby waterways, does not relieve an industry of complying with the Clean Water Act.
The Court held that the Clean Water Act “require[s] a permit if the addition of the pollutants through groundwater is the functional equivalent of a direct discharge from the point source into navigable waters.” In doing so, the Court roundly rejected the Trump administration’s narrow position, stating, “We do not see how Congress could have intended to create such a large and obvious loophole in one of the key regulatory innovations of the Clean Water Act.”
“The Trump administration Environmental Protection Agency reversed four decades of previous EPA practice under both Republican and Democratic administrations, arguing that the Clean Water Act exempts discharges of pollution that reach waters of the U.S. through groundwater. This purported loophole would threaten the ecological health of streams, which are affected by groundwater discharge. In our watershed, polluted groundwater often pushes nutrients and chemical contaminants into the Chesapeake Bay. Groundwater contributes more than half of the total annual flow of streams in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.”
“Congress passed the Clean Water Act with the primary objective to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the nation’s waters. Today, the Clean Water Act is the best defense of clean, safe water – a right of every person in this country. I am pleased the highest court in the land has recognized the importance of protecting clean water for all Americans. The Supreme Court’s decision affirms at a critical time the Clean Water Act’s importance as one of our nation’s most effective environmental laws.”