U.S. Representatives Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Glenn Thompson (R-PA) offered an amendment in the U.S. House of Representatives this week to the Interior and Environment Appropriations bill that would gut the federal-state effort to clean up the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers and streams.
The Interior and Environment Appropriations bill sets funding levels for EPA's work to cleanup the Chesapeake Bay.
Mr. Goodlatte's Amendment #57 would keep EPA from using any funds to take "backstop" actions against states failing to meet their pollution-reduction goals set under the Blueprint.
These backstop actions are what give the Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Blueprint its "teeth.” Previous efforts to clean up the Bay all lacked meaningful consequences for failure to reduce pollution.
In EPA’s most recent review of Pennsylvania’s progress in June, the Commonwealth was lagging so far behind in meeting its cleanup goals, EPA said it would be developing its own Pennsylvania-specific goals for reducing nutrients and sediment in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
Pennsylvania is already at backstop levels for agricultural sources of water pollution and for urban/suburban stormwater runoff.
Chesapeake Bay Foundation President Will Baker sent a letter to representatives from the Bay region, urging them to vote NO on Mr. Goodlatte's amendment and asking them to redouble their support for the watershed states, communities, and farmers who are on the front lines of this historic restoration effort.
Yet still, late Wednesday, the U.S. House passed Mr. Goodlatte’s Amendment #57 that undermines the Blueprint clean-up effort—in direct opposition to the will of Bay states and residents.
Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Baker issued this statement following passage by the House of Representatives of the Interior and Environment Appropriations bill-- “Even though the Goodlatte Amendment passed, yesterday’s House vote demonstrates that the Bay delegation is standing strong in support of a federal-state collaboration that is working.
“We at CBF have been doing this work to Save the Bay for almost 50 years. The frustrations of a Bay getting worse have been huge. But now, with the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, we are seeing real, system-wide improvements. Most states are meeting, or close to meeting their goals, and the Bay is showing improvement. The dead zones are smaller, oysters are making a comeback, and Bay grasses are covering more acres than they have in 35 years.
“In 2014, Bay states boldly demonstrated their full support for federal-state collaboration to clean the Bay, and the courts unanimously upheld the Blueprint in 2015. Our states and residents have made significant investments in this collaboration.
“We greatly appreciate the many Bay Congressional leaders whose vote yesterday demonstrated that they recognize that the Blueprint is providing benefits to the Bay, our larger environment, our economy, and human health.”
This is how members of Pennsylvania’s Congressional delegation voted-- Yes-- Barletta (R-Luzerne), Dent (R-Lehigh), Marino (Lycoming), Meehan (R-Delaware), Perry (R-Cumberland), Pitts (R-Lancaster), Rothfus (Beaver), Shuster (Blair), Thompson (R-Clearfield); No-- Cartwright (D-Schuylkill).
The Appropriations bill still has to be reconciled with the U.S. Senate's version before it heads towards the President's desk for signature.
How Clean Is My Stream?
For more information and find out how clean streams are in your county, visit CBF-PA’s Clean Water Counts In Pennsylvania webpage.
For more on Chesapeake Bay-related issues in Pennsylvania, visit the CBF-PA webpage. Click Here to sign up for Pennsylvania updates (bottom of left column). Click Here for a copy of CBF-PA’s most recent newsletter.
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