Dan Tarlock on CPRBlog {Bio}

Forty Years Later, Time to Turn in the CWA Clunker for Something Suited for the 21st Century

As the Clean Water Act (CWA) turns 40, it is useful to compare it to the cars on the road in 1972. Big cars, some still adorned with tail fins and grills, ruled the road, running on 36 cents per gallon gas.  Forty years later, we look back on the early 70s and ask how could we consider these cars, and what we wore driving them, so cool. Today, we are driving smaller, better engineered and designed fuel efficient cars.   

If only it were so for our water protection laws. Instead, we are still trying to maintain and improve the quality of our nation’s waters and the aquatic ecosystems that they support with a clunky piece of legislation written four decades ago.  For a long time, most in the environmental community have recognized that the CWA needs to be traded in.

The environmental community has three options for the future of the Act. First, it could spend all its time keeping the clunker running as industry uses the Republican Party to eviscerate it or return to pre-1972 inconsistent and largely non-existent state protection.  Second, there is a well-developed incremental reform agenda. It includes closing gaps such as non-point sources and confined agricultural run-off, reforming the dysfunctional Section 404 Corps-EPA relation, and strengthening the long-running TMDL program.  The third option is to work toward trading in the Act for a new model, an Audi A8 Clean Water Act, if you will.

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The First 100 Days: At Interior, Several Positive Developments, but the Jury is Still Out

This post is written by CPR Member Scholars Dan Tarlock and Holly Doremus

How has the Department of Interior fared during the first 100 days? If history is any guide, the issue may be more important than many people assume. With one major and one minor exception, Secretaries of the Interior stay put in Democratic administrations. Franklin Lane served from 1913 until the last year of the Wilson Administration. Harold Ickes was FDR's only Secretary and he served until his 1945 registration in the Truman Administration. Stuart Udall served during the entire Kennedy and Johnson Administrations; Cecil Andrus did so under President Carter, and Bruce Babbitt lasted for the full two terms of Bill Clinton's tenure in office. Harry Truman is the exception, but he had only two secretaries during his nearly 8 years in office.

The short answer to the question is the record is mixed and the jury is still out, although the Department is moving away from some of policies of the Bush Administration DOI. Given the sorry record of the Department from 2000-2008, the improvement bar is a very low one. But the burden is still on the DOI and the relatively unknown Secretary Salazar to prove that it will adopt policies that are responsive to the unmet need for natural resource management grounded in science and 21stcentury economic realities.

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Takings Claims in the Klamath Basin

Center for Progressive Reform Member Scholars Holly Doremus and Dan Tarlock blog on the Oregon Supreme Court's recent announcement that it would decide whether irrigators in the Klamath Basin "own" water delivered by the federal Klamath Reclamation Project. Full text

Bush Record on Biodiversity and Endangered Species

CPR Member Scholar A. Dan Tarlock blogs on the Bush Administration's record on biodiversity protection and endangered species. Full text