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Introduction to Environmental Engineering by Alandra Kahl

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Chapter 1

Historic and Legal Basis of and for Environmental Regulation

1.1 Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899

The Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 is the oldest environmental law in the United States. It was signed into law by President William McKinley on March 3, 1899. This act makes it illegal to discharge refuse into any water body of the United States without a permit, and is also known as the Refuse Act. It also made it illegal to create a dam in a navigable stream without a permit or perform any act of excavation or course alternation without appropriate documentation. Any such construction is overseen by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and cannot proceed without approval of the Chief Engineer. The law has been recently used in a case in Washington ...

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