Tuesday, April 6, 2021

U.S. Senators From Maryland, Virginia, Delaware Urge EPA To Ensure Pennsylvania's Compliance With Chesapeake Bay Pollution Reduction Standards

On April 5, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) joined by Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan, urging the EPA to use all tools available to meet the 2025 goals of the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL). 

The pollution reduction requirements in the Bay TMDL are vital to protecting the health of the Chesapeake Bay and ensuring the Bay’s surrounding states each do their part in reducing pollution. 

Recently, however, Pennsylvania has fallen behind in their TMDL requirements. While the Trump Administration refused to use its legal authority to ensure compliance, the Senators are urging the EPA to take the necessary action to do so.

The Senators wrote, “On December 29, 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency established the Chesapeake Bay TMDL, a historic and comprehensive agreement that includes accountability features to restore clean water in the seven jurisdictions within the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The agreement is a national and indeed international model for watershed restoration. It sets limits for pollution that equate to a 25 percent reduction in nitrogen, 24 percent reduction in phosphorous, and 20 percent reduction in sediment. As the Bay TMDL states, ‘The TMDL is designed to ensure that all pollution control measures needed to fully restore the Bay and its tidal rivers are in place by 2025[.]’”

“The Courts have upheld the legality of the Bay TMDL. As the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has noted, the ‘Clean Water Act does not simply direct the publication of the TMDL; it is one step in a process with several layers, each placing primary responsibility for pollution controls in state hands with ‘backstop authority’ vested in the EPA,’” they continue.

“The implementation of the Bay TMDL and the Bay jurisdiction’s Watershed Implementation Plans are, therefore, part of EPA’s legal obligation to achieve and maintain the nutrient goals of the Chesapeake Bay TMDL under the Clean Water Act,” the Senators note.

The Senators point to the need for action, writing, “We are at a critical juncture in implementation of the Bay TMDL. EPA’s response to Pennsylvania’s Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) noted that Pennsylvania is on track to meet only 75 percent of its nitrogen reduction targets and the Commonwealth itself identified a $324 million annual shortfall in their plan. The State of New York’s Phase III WIP is also 1 million pounds under its nitrogen goal. We ask that you use all tools at your disposal—including those identified in Bay TMDL Section 7—to make sure that all jurisdictions are on track for 2025.”

Click Here for a copy of the letter.

For more on Pennsylvania’s efforts, visit DEP’s PA’s Chesapeake Bay Watershed webpage.

How Clean Is Your Stream?

DEP’s Interactive Report Viewer allows you to zoom in on your own stream or watershed to find out how clean your stream is or if it has impaired water quality using the latest information in the draft 2020 Water Quality Report.

Related Articles:

-- CBF, Other States To File Lawsuit Against EPA Over Failure To Hold Pennsylvania, NY Accountable For Not Meeting Clean Water Obligations

-- Op-Ed: Chesapeake Bay Foundation Suing EPA Will Benefit Pennsylvanians And Other Others Who Value Clean Water

-- DEP Chesapeake Bay Implementation Plan Update: 86% Of Phase 3 Milestones Are On Track

Related Articles This Week:

-- Senate Committee Meeting Provides Overview Of Chesapeake Bay Restoration Efforts 

[Posted: April 6, 2021]  PA Environment Digest

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