April 3, 2020

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Hoyer Asks EPA to Clarify Position on TMDLs

TMDLs

House and Senate members joined Congressman Steny H. Hoyer in pressing the Environmental Protection Agency to clarify its position on the enforcement of the Chesapeake Bay Agreement Total Maximum Daily Load, or TMDLs, pollution reduction targets.

Rep. Hoyer (D-MD) and Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) led a bicameral letter with 18 of their colleagues to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler urging the agency to address recent statements made regarding the TMDL targets.

“We were deeply disturbed by reports that, at the January 3, 2020, meeting of the Chesapeake Bay Commission, EPA Chesapeake Bay Program Director Dana Aunkst reportedly said that the Bay Total Maximum Daily Load was ‘aspirational’ and that the 2025 targets were ‘not enforceable,’” the members wrote in the letter dated January 10. “This is totally contrary to the intent of this decade-long effort and, if it is the position of the EPA, risks critical progress to restore the Chesapeake Bay.”

They go on to underline the legal justification of the EPA’s authority, noting, “The Courts have upheld the legality of the Bay TMDL. As the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has noted, the ‘Clean Water Act does not simply direct the publication of the TMDL; it is one step in a process with several layers, each placing primary responsibility for pollution controls in state hands with ‘backstop authority’ vested in the EPA.’”

The members requested that the EPA answer a number of questions clarifying its position, and closed the letter, stating, “The Bay TMDL has made strong progress towards cleanup of this national treasure and economic engine in our region. We are at a critical moment, when all partners must step up their commitment to reach the 2025 goals. The EPA has a statutory obligation to be an enforcement backstop in this vital project, and we fully expect it to fulfill that role.”

In addition to Congressman Hoyer and Sen. Van Hollen, the letter was signed by Environment and Public Works Committee ranking member Tom Carper (D-DE) and Sens. Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Christopher A. Coons (D-DE), and Reps. John P. Sarbanes (D-MD), Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA), Donald S. Beyer Jr. (D-VA), C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), Gerald E. Connolly (D-VA), Anthony G. Brown (D-MD), Elaine G. Luria (D-VA), Jennifer Wexton (D-VA), David Trone (D-MD), A. Donald McEachin (D-VA), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), and Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE).

A copy of the letter can be read here.

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For more information about House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, visit his Leader member page.

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