Despite its misleading title, the "Chesapeake Bay Program Reauthorization and Improvement Act" bill would actually damage the health of the Chesapeake Bay and the communities that depend upon it. The legislation would derail ongoing efforts to clean up the Bay by undermining new pollution limits for the Chesapeake.
Even more importantly, the bill could strip the federal government of its critical role in ensuring that all citizens have clean waters in which they can safely fish and swim.
Stop the Chesapeake Bay Dirty Water Bill
As a supporter of American Rivers, I am writing to urge you to oppose the "Chesapeake Bay Program Reauthorization and Improvement Act" (H.R. 4153) introduced by Representative Goodlatte (R-VA) and Representative Holden (D-PA). Despite its misleading title, this bill would actually damage the health of the Chesapeake Bay and the communities that depend upon it.
Representative Goodlatte's bill represents the latest attempt to roll back protections for our rivers, lakes, and streams under the Clean Water Act. Although the bill applies directly to the Chesapeake Bay, it would set a precedent to disrupt the careful balance of shared federal and state responsibility that is the foundation of the Clean Water Act.
The bill amends the Clean Water Act to place the authority to establish limits for the Bay's multi-state pollution diet, the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), entirely in the hands of individual Bay states themselves. States and local governments already are responsible for implementing their part of the pollution diet. Shifting responsibility entirely to the states would turn back the clock on the Clean Water Act, allowing each state to set pollutant levels with no federal safeguards to ensure that the limits lead to clean water. If the Chesapeake Bay states aren't coordinated, the Bay will fall victim to a "race to the bottom" as states vie with each other to exempt industries or corporations from laws in order to lure one from another.
Representative Goodlatte's bill includes other provisions that chip away at clean water protections. The bill would allow wastewater treatment plants and other point sources to meet their permit obligations for pollutant discharges through a trading program. Water quality trading has only provided elusive benefits and cannot succeed without minimum nutrient criteria for all of our rivers and good monitoring programs, including on agricultural land, neither of which are in the bill. The bill also allows developers to pollute local waters and instead meet stormwater requirements by reducing runoff anywhere else in the entire Chesapeake Bay watershed.
I urge you to oppose the "Chesapeake Bay Program Reauthorization and Improvement Act" (H.R. 4153), which is not the solution to cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay. It not only upends a decades-long collaborative process to address the pollution flowing into the Bay, but sets a dangerous precedent to weaken Clean Water Act protections across the country.