Brent Finnegan -- February 25th, 2011
Rep. Bob Goodlatte successfully added an amendment to a House budget package that strips the EPA of federal funds designated to implement their Chesapeake Bay restoration plan. The EPA’s Bay restoration program involves a “pollution diet” for six states in the watershed, including Virginia, and funding to help states meet the mandates.
In the Shenandoah Valley, there have been objections to new EPA regulations from some farmers and state politicians. There have also been successful partnerships to reduce nutrient pollution from local dairy and cattle farms, such as the Smith Creek restoration project (which is funded in part by the USDA).
The Washington Post reported in December that Gov. Bob McDonnell was at least mostly supportive of the EPA initiative.
The pollution limits, known as the total maximum daily load [TMDL], identify how much nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment can flow into the Chesapeake each day from farms, sewage treatment plants, urban and suburban streets, parking lots and lawns. It calls for a 25 percent reduction in nitrogen, 24 percent reduction in phosphorus and 20 percent reduction in sediment by 2025. That translates into 185.9 million pounds of nitrogen, 12.5 million pounds of phosphorus and 6.45 billion pounds of sediment per year. Sixty percent of the pollution cuts are to be made by 2017 […]
“We feel it is a stringent but workable plan that demonstrates Virginia’s commitment to cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay while providing for continued economic growth in the commonwealth,” McDonnell said. “After much discussion with the EPA, the approved plan balances the important environmental protection concerns with the need to protect jobs in agriculture and farming . . .”
Goodlatte, who serves as the vice chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, said this month that states, not the federal government, should decide how to control pollution.
It’s worth noting that the agricultural, dairy and poultry industries that have by and large opposed the EPA TMDL regulations, have also contributed heavily to Goodlatte’s campaign coffers.
Goodlatte’s amendment passed the House vote 230 to 195. Now it’s on to the U.S. Senate, where the amendment may face scrutiny and opposition. The Post reported on Friday:
Kevin Hall, a spokesman for Sen. Mark R. Warner (Va.), said that the Democrat would oppose the House funding cuts. Warner is an advocate for a broader budget deal that would tackle runaway entitlement spending, Hall said, and Republicans’ targeting of local programs showed the “folly of focusing deep cuts on a tiny sliver of the overall budget.