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Report Shows Tennessee Waters at High Risk of Pollution, Destruction
A new report shows that up to 60 percent of Tennessee’s stream miles and half of its 787,000 remaining acres of wetlands may no longer be protected from pollution and destruction under the Clean Water Act. Two major Supreme Court cases and subsequent agency guidance have severely weakened federal Clean Water Act protections in Tennessee and have fueled efforts to weaken state water quality laws.
While Tennessee has state level protections for many waters, industry groups have already used the uncertainty regarding federal protections to weaken these state laws. It is almost certain that as long as federal protections remain mired in confusion, attacks on state-level protections will continue.
According to Jim Murphy, National wildlife Federation wetlands and water resources counsel, “Tennessee has some of the most rapidly developing counties in the nation. Development pressure coupled with the increased stresses climate change will place on Tennessee’s waters bode poorly for Tennessee’s children’s ability to enjoy clean water and healthy wildlife unless basic Clean Water Act protections are restored.”