March 18, 2010
CBF Calls for Increased Funding and Commitment
to Meet Federal Water Quality Mandates
(HARRISBURG, PA)���A new report from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) finds that in a number of critical areas the resources Pennsylvania is devoting to reducing pollution are not sufficient to meet its obligations. The report, "By Any Measure, Pennsylvania Does Not Have the Resources to Meet its Chesapeake Bay Cleanup Commitments," was issued to members at an informational meeting of the Joint Senate Committees of Agriculture & Rural Affairs and Environmental Resources & Energy, held yesterday. The purpose of the meeting was to update members on efforts to develop and implement the upcoming pollution budget for the region.
Thousands of miles of local rivers and streams, as well as the Chesapeake Bay have been damaged by pollution, and past efforts to restore the health of these waterways have failed. As a result, a court-ordered pollution budget (called a Total Maximum Daily Load or TMDL) is being developed. Pennsylvania will have to significantly increase the level of funding and effort necessary to meet its future clean water requirements, and it will be critical for leaders to understand how far short our current programs and funding fall from meeting short-term and long-term pollution reduction goals.
"CBF commends the joint committees for taking a necessary step toward moving Pennsylvania in the right direction���toward providing state funding for much-needed and federally mandated improvements to reduce pollution from agriculture and stormwater sources," said Matt Ehrhart, CBF Pennsylvania Executive Director.
"State officials have suggested that Pennsylvania already has the resources needed to meet our Chesapeake Bay Cleanup commitment���however, the reality is that we are putting the burden of hundreds of millions of dollars in compliance costs squarely on farmers, developers, and sewage system ratepayers without further state assistance. Pennsylvania must prioritize state funding toward our obligation to meet our federal clean water commitments."
With shortcomings in state resources, the opportunity for significant federal funding to aide in the efforts does exist. Introduced in October 2009, the Chesapeake Clean Water and Ecosystem Restoration Act (S. 1816/H.R. 3852), also known as the Chesapeake Clean Water Act (CCWA), will provide critical funding for stormwater upgrades, agricultural technical assistance and create a new region-wide trading program that could lower the costs of reducing pollution and provide a potential revenue stream for farmers.
"The CCWA is the single most important legislation for clean water in a generation, and if passed by Congress will authorize significant new resources to help communities do their part," Ehrhart said. "The pollution budget is coming. We must all work together to ensure that the funding and technical assistance are there, or there will be serious consequences. If we do not, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, instead of Pennsylvania, will make the decisions they feel are appropriate to meet the clean water mandates. In fact, they have already begun to take enforcement actions against farmers and communities."
Learn more about the Chesapeake Clean Water Act and how you can help this crucial legislation pass Congress.