EPA Official: Chesapeake Bay “TMDL is Not a Regulation” - House Committee Members, Panelists Disagree

November 4, 2011

On Thursday, the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy, and Forestry held a public hearing, “To review the implementation of phase II of the Chesapeake Bay TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load) Watershed Implementation Plans and their impact on rural communities.” The hearing was the Subcommittee’s second oversight hearing under my leadership to examine the Chesapeake Bay TMDL, controversial federal regulations through the Environmental Protection Agency to limit nutrient and sediment runoff in the Bay Watershed.  The first hearing, "To review the Chesapeake Bay TMDL, agricultural conservation practices, and their implications on national watersheds," was held on March 16, 2011. Here are several exchanges from the hearing:

“That’s a pretty amazing claim…I find that unbelievable.” – U.S. Representative Bob Goodlatte

“Regulation or not regulations, I happen to think they are regulations.  Looks like, smells like, tastes like regulations – I think it is…”Chairman Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson, Agriculture Subcommittee on Energy, Conservation, and Forestry

“Not a regulation?  My foot is not a regulation.  It sure is a regulation…The bottom Line, is if the states don’t dance to the tune… there are back stops that will be imposed, penalties imposed, from the federal government…”Secretary Michael Krancer, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

Not a Regulation?

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Revised Chesapeake Bay Plan: “Under the above admittedly unrealistic best case scenario, the total estimated cost would be $8.7 billion…DEP does not believe that this expenditure is justifiable, and we are confident that sufficient reductions will accrue in other sectors to compensate for the lack of a septic retrofit program.” (Pa. Department of Environmental Protection – January, 2011)

EPA’s Public Discussion Draft, Coming Together on Clean Water: “Carrying out all of these principles is where the true “coming together” must happen to address the primary stressors from multiple angles: smarter regulations, stronger partnerships, more balanced and coordinated compliance and enforcement, more integrated approaches to capitalize on synergies…” (EPA – August, 2010)

  • “This combined approach of protecting healthy watersheds and restoring impaired waters will ultimately improve the overall state of our nation’s waters. Key EPA Actions: Implement current regulations for concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and propose new regulations to more effectively achieve pollutant reductions necessary to meet the Chesapeake Bay TMDL…” 

U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works: “..a huge leap forward in water quality like we saw in the 70’s after the passage of the CWA,” Lisa Jackson said.  While many people would echo this sentiment, EPA has proposed to achieve this by aggressively moving forward with rules that will “increase the regulatory universe.” EPA is working under the assumption that greater federal regulation produces greater environmental benefits…” (U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works – June, 2011)

  • “This report examines the increased regulatory universe and the impacts on state and local governments of several key regulations that EPA has either recently promulgated or is intending to implement in the next few months… These regulations are setting the stage for the entire country…”