Today, Rep. Glenn 'GT' Thompson, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy, and Forestry held a public hearing to review the implementation of Phase II of the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Watershed Implementation Plans (WIP) and their impact on states and rural communities.
The implementation of the TMDL is complex and far-reaching, affecting communities in six states and the District of Columbia. States are now in the second phase of a three-part process to limit discharge into the Bay and several of them have raised concerns about the cost and the regulatory burden they face in meeting the new limits. Witnesses testified that the process is being driven by arbitrary deadlines from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) instead of economic and scientific assessments. This creates difficulties for states and municipalities attempting to meet EPA's requirements.
"Because the Chesapeake Watershed TMDL is such a broad effort, and because of the costs imposed upon local communities, it is imperative for members of this subcommittee to understand what is being asked of the counties, towns and municipalities. We all want to implement a plan that furthers restoration of the Chesapeake Bay, however, it must be equitable. It's problematic that we still do not have a cost-benefit analysis of this process nor a sound model for a baseline measurement under the current plan. Ultimately, we must be certain that the federal government is not executing the facets of this plan in a heavy-handed manner, which will place undue burden upon states and localities, during a time when we need fewer hindrances to economic growth and job creation, not more," said Chairman Glenn 'GT' Thompson (R-PA).
"The health of the Chesapeake Bay and those bodies of water contained in the Bay watershed deserves our full attention. Efforts to improve Bay water quality, however, should not impede on the livelihood of our family farmers. It is important that EPA works with the States as true partners to ensure the proper balance between a healthy environment and a healthy economy," said Ranking Member Tim Holden (D-PA).