The Public Interest

Clean rhetoric and dirty water

A. Myrick Freeman III & Robert H. Haveman

Summer 1972

FOR NEARLY two decades now, the United States has been passing new legislation to improve the quality of the environment. Numerous laws with environmental implications have been passed, and rivers of rhetoric have flowed from members of Congress and executive agencies. We have seen the Water Pollution Control Act of 1956, the Water Quality Act of 1965, the Clean Water Restoration Act of 1966, and the Environment Quality Improvement Act of 1970, among others. In 1965, we heard President Johnson say, as he signed the Water Quality Act, “Today, we begin to be master of our environment”; and in 1971, President Nixon stated, “The battle for a better environment can be won and we are winning it.”

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