Senators urged to not alter Clean Water Act

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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WASHINGTON – Senators have been urged by the American Meat Institute and a number of agriculture associations to oppose efforts to attach the Chesapeake Clean Water and Ecosystem Restoration Act to pending legislation during the lame-duck session.

“This is not a bill with implications just for the Chesapeake Bay watershed; its measures would have far reaching consequences for the entire U.S. and, as such, merits the full and serious consideration that the Senate would normally give to measures of such importance,” the organizations wrote in a letter sent to members of the US Senate. “We ask that you oppose any bill that comes to the Senate floor if it includes the text of S. 1816.”

One possible vehicle for the legislation may be an omnibus “clean water” bill combining several bills that authorize non-regulatory programs to help improve water quality in various regions of the country.

“In contrast with these measures, S. 1816 is not a regional bill with only local consequences and only benign effect for the rest of the country. … Instead, S. 1816 would set a major legislative precedent in federal environmental law, taking the authority and control granted to states and local governments under the Clean Water Act and instead vest it in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – a step never before taken in the 38-year history of the law. Additionally, by subjecting a wide range of traditionally local and state activities to federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act, S. 1816 automatically grants citizen lawsuit privileges to environmental activists to stymie lawful economic activity and ensnare landowners and state and local governments in expensive, protracted litigation,” stated the organizations.

The letter notes that the backdrop for S. 1816 is the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL). Under current law, TMDLs are developed by states to limit the amount of pollutants that may enter an impaired river, lake, or estuary. Under current law, EPA has authority to approve or disapprove a state’s TMDL. EPA also can issue its own version of a TMDL if a State does not act or if EPA disapproves the state’s TMDL. S. 1816 would completely change the law and its application in the District of Columbia and in the six states that encompass the Chesapeake Bay watershed. In the District of Columbia, S. 1816 would give EPA authority to regulate the flow of water and the use of land, and impose extreme controls that would result in higher costs borne by the citizens of the District in order to reduce both runoff and wastewater discharges.

“Agriculture and forestry are committed to working with Congress, the administration and other stakeholders in the Bay region in support of advancing policies that can achieve greater water quality for the Bay. We have the same commitment with respect to improving water quality across the country. But we emphatically cannot support the precedent setting, fundamental altering of the Clean Water Act policy framework that S. 1816 would carry forward, with all its attendant implications for the application of the Clean Water Act throughout the country. It simply will not work. We urge you to oppose this measure should it come up for consideration later this year,” the letter concluded.

To view the letter in its entirety, click here: http://www.meatami.com/ht/a/GetDocumentAction/i/63830.
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