(ANNAPOLIS, MD)—Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) President William C. Baker issued this statement following passage by the House of Representatives of the Interior and Environment Appropriations bill. The legislation contains an amendment that prohibits the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from spending money to take actions against states that fail to meet pollution-reduction targets that the states set for themselves.
In the Chesapeake Bay region, there have been decades of failed voluntary efforts to reduce pollution and restore water quality. As part of the 2010 settlement of a Clean Water Act legal action by the CBF and its partners, the states and EPA worked cooperatively to establish science-based limits on the pollution fouling the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers and streams legally known as a Total Maximum Daily Load, or TMDL.
As part of the TMDL, each state developed its own plan to achieve those limits and committed to two-year milestones that outline the actions they will take to achieve those limits. EPA promised consequences for failure to implement their plans. Together, the limits, plans, milestones, and consequences make up the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint and represent what many consider the moment in time for clean water in the Chesapeake Bay.
Opponents of the Blueprint, led by the American Farm Bureau Federation, filed suit in federal court against the Blueprint, losing in both District Court and the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court, which decided not to hear the case leaving stand the Appeals Court ruling that the Blueprint is legal and should be implemented.
Mr. Baker said:
"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.
CBF would like particularly to commend the efforts of Representatives Chris Van Hollen and Bobby Scott, who led efforts to defeat this amendment in the House of Representatives."
Voting for the amendment to prohibit EPA from imposing consequences were:
Representatives Barletta, Brat, Collins, Costello, Dent, Goodlatte, Griffith, Hurt, Jenkins, Katko, Marino, McKinley, Meehan, Mooney, Perry, Pitts, Reed, Rothfus, Shuster, and Thompson.
Voting against the amendment were:
Representatives Beyer, Carney, Cartwright, Comstock, Connolly, Cummings, Delaney, Edwards, Forbes, Gibson, Hanna, Harris, Hoyer, Rigell, Ruppersberger, Sarbanes, Scott, Van Hollen, and Wittman.