BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Clean water advocates gathered at Boston Harbor on Friday to celebrate 50 years of the Clean Water Act, the primary federal law governing water pollution in the United States.
The Clean Water Act was signed into law on Oct. 18, 1972, protecting all waters with a "significant nexus" to "navigable waters."
Massachusetts senators Ed Markey and Ayanna Pressley were on hand at the event, praising Boston Harbor's waters as an example of all that has been accomplished in making the nation's waterways fishable and swimmable.
"We have changed the legacy of this harbor, where it went from being one of the most polluted in our nation to now being amongst the cleanest, and that is the type of role that I want this district to play in our commonwealth and in our country," Pressley said.
Pressley also cited the Biden Administration's $50 billion in clean water investments to the Environmental Protection Agency through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
Markey stressed that while the 50th anniversary of the CWA was cause for celebration, the country's waters are facing a new threat from the Supreme Court.
"This Supreme Court, after what it has just done on guns, on abortion, is poised to roll back the protections for the water of our country, the waters of the United States," Markey said. "So as much as we’re celebrating today, we still have fights head of us."
The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Monday in the case of Sackett vs. Environmental Protection Agency. The petitioners, Michael and Chantell Sackett, want to fill in wetlands they own near Idaho’s Priest Lake without a federal permit, and are arguing that the EPA has stepped outside its authority under the Clean Water Act. The Sacketts hope the court will rule that wetlands are not considered "waters of the United States" and thus not subject to regulation under the law.
Environmental advocates are worried that should the court rule in the Sacketts' favor, it could effectively prevent the government from protecting waterways from contamination.
WBZ's Mike Macklin reports.