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Clean Water Act turns 50: Diving into the law's successes and failures

The Cuyahoga River flows past downtown Cleveland Tuesday, July 15, 2008. (Mark Duncan/AP)
The Cuyahoga River flows past downtown Cleveland Tuesday, July 15, 2008. (Mark Duncan/AP)

In 1969, a spark from a passing train ignited a fire on the Cuyahoga River in Ohio. The water was slick with oil and industrial pollution. The river catching fire helped wake people up to the reality that America’s waterways were dying.

That environmental disaster is one reason why Congress created the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970 and enacted the Clean Water Act in 1972.

With the landmark legislation turning 50 later this year, Here & Now‘s Peter O’Dowd discusses the good, bad, and ugly with Eric Shaeffer, executive director at the Environmental Integrity Project, and the former director of Civil Enforcement at the EPA.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.