Environment Committee also approves bill to require feds to pay their fair share to clean up local stormwater pollution
Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Chairman of the Senate Water and Wildlife Subcommittee, lauded today’s passage by voice-vote of the Chesapeake Clean Water and Ecosystem Restoration Act (S. 1816) in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Authored by Senator Cardin, this bill will help protect and restore the health of the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed, which stretches across six states and the District of Columbia, from New York to Virginia. Senator Cardin praised the committee for also confirming the need for the federal government to pay localities for the cleanup of stormwater pollution it generates.
“Today we take a major step forward in writing the next chapter in the history of one of America’s most cherished and celebrated bodies of water – the Chesapeake Bay,” said Senator Cardin. “In developing this important legislation, we listened carefully to our watershed partners, our watermen, our farmers, and others whose livelihood depends on a viable Chesapeake. The result is a robust plan that will put us on a realistic but aggressive path to restoring the Bay to a healthy state that can sustain native fish, wildlife, farmland, and our regional economy.
“The Chesapeake Clean Water Act recognizes that restoring the health of the Bay is a regional effort, led by the states, in partnership with the federal government. The bill codifies that states are responsible for designing their own watershed implementation plans. States are responsible for making sure the plans are put into action. States are responsible for enforcing the terms of the watershed implementation plans. And the states are responsible for making any adjustments or mid-course corrections. All stakeholders – governmental and nongovernmental -- share in the cleanup efforts and share in the benefits of a healthy and sustainable Chesapeake Bay.
“EPA’s role also is clear. Utilizing existing authority, it provides the overall pollution reduction targets to each state and the overall framework for the watershed implementation plans. It serves as the referee, making sure that each state is doing its part in the restoration effort. This is the model of state-federal partnership embodied in the Clean Water Act.”
S. 1816 - CHESAPEAKE CLEAN WATER AND ECOSYSTEM RESTORATION ACT OF 2009
The Chesapeake Clean Water and Ecosystem Act of 2009 amends the Clean Water Act and reauthorizes the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Chesapeake Bay Program. The bill gives state and local governments of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed expanded authority, $1.5 billion in new grant authorization, and strong new enforcement tools, to help restore the Bay’s health. The reauthorization requires that at least 10% of funds for implementation grants be made available to the states of Delaware, New York, and West Virginia and that at least 20% of such funds be made available to states to provide technical assistance to agricultural producers and foresters.
With federal assistance, states will have the ability to set and meet enforceable targets for success by 2025. The bill also establishes a flexible pollution trading program that is designed to lower compliance costs while also providing Bay watershed farmers with added financial incentives to implement conservation practices on their lands. In addition, the bill puts the force of law behind a recent Executive Order from President Obama that requires every federal department to work toward Bay restoration.
The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in North America, with a length of 200 miles and 11,684 miles of tidal shoreline, more than the entire U.S. West Coast. About 100,000 streams and rivers thread through the Chesapeake’s 64,000-square-mile watershed, which is home to almost 17 million people across Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. The Chesapeake Bay supports more than 3,600 species of plants, fish and animals.
S. 3481 - A BILL TO CLARIFY FEDERAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR STORMWATER POLLUTION
“At stake is a fundamental issue of equity: polluters should be financially responsible for the pollution that they cause. That must include the federal government,” said Senator Cardin. “Annually hundreds of thousands of pounds of pollutants wash off the hardened surfaces in urban areas and into local rivers and streams, threatening the health of our citizens and causing significant environmental degradation. This legislation will remove all ambiguity about the responsibility of the federal government to pay the normal and customary stormwater fees administered by local governments forced to deal with this pollution.”
This bill would require the federal government to comply with local stormwater fees that are used to treat and manage polluted stormwater runoff. It clarifies that reasonable service charges described in the Clean Water Act include reasonable fees or assessments made for the purpose of stormwater management and that appropriated funds may be used to pay such fees, which are not considered a tax.