EPA Bay Funding Down The Drain?

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.

"Drains to Chesapeake Bay" image from downtown Harrisonburg.

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.

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15 Responses to “EPA Bay Funding Down The Drain?”

  1. Tad says:

    The states have had 30 years to clean up the bay and have made zero progress. The Clean Water Act and court decisions require the EPA to do something. It is no more complicated than that.

  2. Bubby Hussein, Hillbilly Sheikh says:

    Bob Goodlatte works for corporate polluters, he could care less about the Chesapeake Bay – birthplace of Virginia and our nation.

    Former Governor Warner brokered the deal with the Bay states to clean up the bay and I hope that he will again step up to lead the cleanup along. We need to restore the majesty of our Bay. Virginia should honor it’s heritage. The Chesapeake bay is America’s jewel, and the Valley is it’s headwaters.

  3. David Miller says:

    “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. ”

    Cool Mr. Goodlatte, get off your butt and decide to control pollution into the bay! Its that simple, you can’t just put your head in the sand, its full of phosphates and might kill you or at least give you a massive bacterial infection.

    Personally I’m glad that the federal government “Stimulus” gave money to projects like Timberville’s new waste water treatment operation. Damn wasteful spending~! ugh

  4. Renee says:

    In this case when multiple states are affected, it makes sense for the federal government to step in both to regulate, and to provide funding for, cleanup requirements. Otherwise, we get the “it’s the other guy’s problem” effect and no one does anything.

    It seemed support for Bay cleanup had been gaining some footing in recent years, and I thought the Chesapeake Club’s advertising was creative and catchy:
    Hope cuts like these don’t set back those great efforts.

  5. Doug says:

    Congressman Goodlatte claims that his amendment is only about the EPA, but he’s not telling the whole truth. Read it directly from the Congressional Record: “None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to develop, promulgate, evaluate, implement, provide oversight to, or backstop total maximum daily loads or watershed implementation plans for the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.” That means NO technical assistance for farmers, NO grants for towns and cities to upgrade sewage treatment, NOTHING from the federal govenment to reduce pollution. At the very time everyone is being asked to do more, the Congressman is taking away all federal help. That’s crazy. Farmers, town and county officials and everyone concerned about clean water should make sure that Senators Warner and Webb kill the Goodlatte amendment.

  6. I’m in favor of a government that has some tendency to err on the side of modesty… But the GOP has no real commitment to limited government. They use the rhetoric as a stalking-horse to cut funding to things they don’t like–e.g. the environment. (Why they are not only indifferent to, but seemingly somewhat *hostile* to, trees and rivers is baffling to me…) Clean water? Gotta cut the funding! Fiscal emergency! Massively over-built military? Can’t touch one penny or your a commie… It’s insane, and transparently so. (And I tend to favor a strong military, incidentally…)

    • Bubby Hussein, Hillbilly Sheikh says:

      The EPA was created by President Richard Nixon, a Republican. That was back in the days when Republicans made government work for the common good. Now they just make government work for the companies that pay them. Guess they lost their faith.

  7. Bazrik says:

    “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.”

    …anyone else feel kind of gross after reading this? Jeesh – when oh when will we get people, not puppets, in important offices like this? I grew up on the bay and, believe me – decisions like this aren’t just a “step back” – they mean more death in the bay’s already fragile ecosystem.

    Hope it was worth the extra campaign dollars, Goodlatte! Thanks a lot!

  8. Wick says:

    Here’s another development on the issue, including a different take on the governor’s position and comment from the Va secretary of natural resources:
    The precedent set by the bay cleanup will serve as a model for the whole Mississippi watwershed, so the stakes are higher than we might realize.

    • Bubby Hussein, Hillbilly Sheikh says:

      There is nothing in the Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources, Doug Domenech’s career history that would recommend him to be the person who will safeguard Virginia’s natural resources. He is there to protect the interests of polluters who want to use the commonwealth as a cost-free dumping ground.

      Municipal rate-payers have paid their share to clean up our wastewater treatment plants, now it is time for the Farm Bureau members to do their share. The free ride is over.

      • joe says:

        you’re kidding me right? did you even read the link your provided? do you understand what those different jobs intel?

        • Bubby Hussein, Hillbilly Sheikh says:

          Yes Joe, being a paid logging lobbyist, resource-extraction ideologue, national home-schooling voucher pimp, and crusader against women’s reproductive rights suggest that Doug Domenech has other career priorities. And working for George Bush’s Interior Department doesn’t burnish that image. Domenech is intellectually un-curious and certainly has nothing in his past to recommend him as a protector of our natural resources. His most valuable qualification is an ability to do what he told to do. Which is precisely what he is doing for well-connected Ches. Bay polluters.

  9. David Miller says:

    Perhaps Goodlatte could join Obenshain and Allen at their Oyster dinner in April to learn the benefits of protecting the bay, the delicious benefits.

  10. Bill says:

    If they do attend the oyster dinner in April, they might opt to get Gulf oysters, courtesy of BP

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