Clean water

CLEAN water is the business of everyone in the United States. Yet, there is now a real possibility that Congress might not get around to approving a renewal of the Clean Water Act this year.

Congress should ensure that the current act, which officially expired in 1982 , is renewed. And not just renewed in name only, but with tough enforcement provisions.

Congress has kept the Clean Water Act in effect by providing funds through continuing budget resolutions. But such an approach allows lawmakers to escape having to come to terms with the extent of potential pollution problems throughout the US.

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Unfortunately, the White House, Senate, and House are going off in different directions. A Senate committee has passed a package calling for $2.4 billion - roughly the level currently provided. A House panel last week passed a bill that among other things would almost double federal aid for public sewer systems - bringing the package close to $5 billion. It provides benefits to a number of special-interest groups, including strip-mining operators and carmakers. Some environmentalists fault the House bill as too weak on enforcement.

There is still time for everyone involved to get together on a compromise measure.

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