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July 24, 2002

Statement From Esther Boykin, Managing Attorney, New Orleans Office

Dubious De-Listings and Louisiana water quality

Contacts

Ken Goldman

202.667.4500 x233

New Orleans, LA

"By passing the Clean Water Act thirty years ago, Congress declared that 'it is the national goal that the discharge of pollutants into the navigable waters be eliminated by 1985.' The objective of the Act is 'to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation's waters.' In fact, as one court has noted, Congress' far-reaching goals are based on its sound belief that man and nature are so intimately connected that to significantly degrade the waters of the United States threatens not only the fish, but ultimately man as well.

"In the Clean Water Act, Congress set out the primary ways by which our public agencies – the Environmental Protection Agency and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality – are to address water pollution problems to achieve the goals of the Act. One of those programs requires that, as a first basic step, the agencies identify the state's impaired waters – those waters that are not meeting water quality standards and are not fishable and swimmable.

"Yet, only a fraction of Louisiana's waters have even been monitored. Of those monitored waters, fewer than half were found to be fishable and swimmable. Compounding the problem, we learn from The Gulf Restoration Network's Dubious De-Listings report that DEQ and EPA are removing waters from the state's list of impaired waters without presenting adequate justification.

"The GRN is rightfully troubled about Louisiana's water quality. We should all be concerned. Earthjustice joins in urging DEQ and EPA to implement the recommendations the Gulf Restoration Network offers in its newly released report, Dubious De-Listings."

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