Thursday, January 2, 2020

Agenda Added: Senate Environmental Committee Sets Jan. 8 Briefing On PA’s Chesapeake Bay Cleanup Obligations

The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee is scheduled to hold a January 8 briefing on Pennsylvania’s Chesapeake Bay cleanup obligations.  The meeting coincides with the 2020 Pennsylvania Farm Show.
The individuals on the agenda to testify include--
-- Ann Swanson, Interstate Chesapeake Bay Commission;
-- Russell Redding, Secretary Of Agriculture;
-- Patrick McDonnell, Secretary of DEP;
-- Karl Brown; PA State Conservation Commission;
-- David Graybeill, PA Farm Bureau;
-- Bill Chain, Senior Ag Program Manager, Chesapeake Bay Foundation-PA
“Based on extensive testing and undertakings, we know where the problems are in the watershed,” said Sen. Gene Yaw, Majority Chair of the Committee.  “Frankly, the areas which need the most attention lie in that part of the watershed south of Harrisburg. Without question, we face significant challenges in meeting the EPA TMDL requirements.  We just need the time and, most importantly, the resources to address those problem areas.”
The meeting will be held at the PA Farm Show Crossroads Conference Center, Erie Room, 2300 North Cameron Street in Harrisburg starting at 9:00 a.m.  The briefing will not be webcast live, but will be available later in the day on the Committee webpage.
Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming) serves as Majority Chair of the Senate Environmental Committee and can be contacted by calling 717-787-3280 or sending email to:   Sen. Steve Santarsiero (D-Bucks) serves as Minority Chair and can be contacted by calling 717-787-7305 or sending email to:
The Committee has a lot to talk about on the state meeting its Chesapeake Bay water pollution reducing commitments, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s determination Pennsylvania’s Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan falls 25 percent short of meeting its nitrogen reduction goal.
Pennsylvania’s failure to meet its obligations means the entire Chesapeake Bay Partnership will fail to meet its 2025 nutrient pollution reduction targets.
For more information on how Pennsylvania plans to meet its Chesapeake Bay cleanup obligations, visit DEP’s PA’s Phase 3 Watershed Implementation Plan webpage.
EPA Expectations & Consequences
In June of 2018, EPA notified Pennsylvania and the other jurisdictions in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed of what its expectations were for the Phase III Watershed Implementation Plans and the consequences if those expectations were not met.
Four pages of the 18 page expectations document outlines specifically what is expected of Pennsylvania and a series of steps EPA could take if Pennsylvania does not live up to these expectations.  (A page and a half was devoted to each of the other jurisdictions.)
Quoting from the document--
In EPA’s role to provide accountability, EPA will assess all potential and appropriate federal actions under its discretionary authority under the Clean Water Act (CWA) as described in the EPA letter to the partnership Principals’ Staff Committee in December 2009 and in the 2010 Chesapeake Bay TMDL Section 7.2.4 to take any or all of the following potential actions. 
Several examples of potential actions EPA could take specific to Pennsylvania include:
1. EPA may continue to target federal enforcement and compliance assurance in the watershed, which could include both air and water sources of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment pollutant loads;
2. EPA may expand NPDES permit coverage through designation, as provided by the Clean Water Act and its regulations, for the following sources of pollutants not currently regulated under any NPDES permits: animal feeding operations, [industrial and municipal] stormwater sources, and/or urbanized areas. Such designations would require those sources to apply for NPDES permit coverage and would assist Pennsylvania in achieving the pollutant load reductions proposed in its Phase III WIP;
3. EPA may redirect Chesapeake Bay or other EPA grant funding to a third party (through a grant, cooperative agreement, or contract) to implement practices in priority areas in Pennsylvania when the Commonwealth has been unwilling or unable to implement necessary pollutant load reduction practices or spend down EPA grant funds in an efficient and timely manner;
4. EPA may direct Chesapeake Bay funding to identified priorities in the EPA evaluations if the Commonwealth does not adequately target workplans and funding toward priority actions and watersheds within the Susquehanna and Potomac River watersheds and other expectations of EPA’s evaluations;
5. EPA may establish finer scale wasteload and load allocations through a Pennsylvania state-specific proposed amendment to the 2010 Chesapeake Bay TMDL to include more specific wasteload allocations for additional municipal and industrial wastewater discharging facilities, concentrated animal feeding operations, and regulated stormwater municipalities, as well as more finely, geographically scaled load allocations for the non-federally regulated agricultural, stormwater, and other pollutant source sectors than are contained in Pennsylvania’s Phase III WIP;
6. EPA may require additional reductions of loadings from point sources through a Pennsylvania state specific proposed amendment to the 2010 Chesapeake Bay TMDL to include reductions in current facility specific wasteload allocations for the significant municipal and industrial wastewater discharging facilities in order to increase the share of the allocations to stormwater and/or agriculture; and
7. EPA may initiate a process to propose promulgating nitrogen and phosphorus numeric water quality standards for Pennsylvania applicable to streams and rivers in Chesapeake Bay watershed.
Click Here for a copy of the EPA expectations statement.
According to EPA on December 19, Pennsylvania has not met those expectations.
(Photo: Senators Yaw and Santarsiero.)
[Posted: January 2, 2019]

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