Monday, October 21, 2002

more from boxer

got another email from the email bot in sen. barbara boxer's office. this one concerns her record on the clean water act of here it is:

I thought you would be interested in the following message.


Dear Friend:

October 18 marks the 30th anniversary of the passage of the Clean Water Act. I thought you might be interested in reading my statement. I would, of course, be interested in your thoughts on this or any other federal matter. [ed. note: at least, her email bot would be interested].

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer

Statement on the 30th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act

Thank you Mr. Chairman. I am pleased to be here today on the 30th anniversary of the Clean Water Act.

In 1972, our nation's water resources were under siege from raw sewage, chemical toxins, and industrial waste. Fish kills were at record highs and our rivers were literally on fire. 90% of America's waterways were polluted in some form or other. In March 1969, 400 square miles of water were blanketed with oil six inches deep after a blowout at an oil company off of Santa Barbara's coastline. It was this water quality crisis that compelled Congress to act in a bipartisan manner to pass the Clean Water Act in 1972.

Since that time, the Clean Water Act has slowly but steadily improved the quality of water in many communities and coastal areas. It has led to less discharge of raw sewage and pollutants, more refined monitoring, heightened awareness, and better science as to what poses a danger to public health.

But let's not talk in the abstract. Let me give you some specific examples of what the Clean Water Act has meant to California.

30 years ago, the port areas of Los Angeles and Long Beach were dead. There were no fish and the entire marine ecosystem of these estuaries was under dire threat. Today, as a result of the Clean Water Act, life has returned to these port areas. Studies show that 67 species and approximately a half billion fish live there.

Similarly, people who lived in the San Francisco Bay area in the 1960s will remember the damage done to the Bay by discharges of raw sewage. 30 years later, in most areas of the Bay, we have state-of-the-art sewage treatment plants that protect the Bay from these harmful discharges, and there is a framework in place to continue to improve the Bay's water quality. Raw sewage is still a problem, but because of the Clean Water Act, residents of the San Francisco Bay area face less of a threat from waste discharge.

When the Clean Water Act was enacted, the goal was to make our waters "swimable and fishable." Today, about 50% of them are. But that means that 50% of them are not. While the conditions of many of our waterways have improved since 1972, much more still needs to be done. In California, for example, beach closures still occur along the coast as a result of pollution, sewage discharge and sewage overflow. This hurts local economies, the recreation industry, and tourism.

But, what is this Administration's reaction? The Bush Administration has halted regulations on control of raw sewage discharges; changed policies on wetlands protection that will result in more wetlands being filled and destroyed; derailed the cleanup of approximately 27,000 waterways; proposed regulations that could remove many polluted waterways from coverage under the Clean Water Act; and eliminated a 25-year old Clean Water Act regulation that prohibited the Army Corps of Engineers from dumping mining wastes in waterways. We must reject this Administration's approach to executing the Clean Water Act, and instead, renew our commitment to cleaning up our waters by strengthening - not weakening - the Clean Water Act.

Let me quickly mention 2 ways we can strengthen the Clean Water Act.

First, we should deal with pollution caused by logging. It is estimated that 85% of the waterways north of San Francisco are impaired by pollution from logging. Sedimentation from logging essentially chokes wildlife, resulting in damaged ecosystems and a loss of water quality down stream. It is the only significant source of pollution on the majority of the streams in northern California. Yet, pollution from logging is not covered by the Clean Water Act.

Second, while the Clean Water Act continues to address traditional sources of pollution, we must also look to address new problems that exist from non-traditional sources. We are faced with challenges from altered water temperatures, invasive species, sedimentation, and filtration. We are seeing this on the Klamath River today where high water temperatures - non traditional pollutants - have resulted in the kill-off of 30,000 salmon. There are many threats to our nation's water resources and the Clean Water Act of the future will need to deal with these issues.

Thank you again, Mr. Chairman, for holding this hearing to look back at the Clean Water Act's successes as well as the challenges we continue to face.


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