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Ruppersberger, Bay Members Demand Answers from EPA on Chesapeake Bay Pollution Reduction

Jan 10, 2020
Press Release
Letter seeks immediate clarity in light of recent comments from EPA leadership

(WASHINGTON, DC) – Today, Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger joined a bicameral letter with 19 of his colleagues to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler urging the agency to clarify its position on the enforcement of the 2010 Chesapeake Bay Agreement pollution reduction targets. The letter follows 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 (TMDL) was ‘aspirational’ and that the 2025 targets were ‘not enforceable.’

"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,” the lawmakers wrote.
They go on to underline the legal justification of the EPA’s authority, noting that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has upheld the legality of the Bay TMDL, which sets pollution limits that the Bay can withstand on a daily basis. The court noted that the Clean Water Act places primary responsibility for pollution controls in state hands with "backstop authority" vested in the EPA.
The Members requested the EPA answer a number of questions clarifying its position, and asked for responses by January 24, 2020.

“The Bay TMDL has made strong progress towards cleanup of this national treasure and economic engine in our region," they wrote. "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 Ruppersberger, the letter was signed by Environment and Public Works Committee Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-Del.) and U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen, Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.), as well as Representatives John P. Sarbanes (D-Md.), Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-Va.), Donald S. Beyer, Jr. (D-Va.), 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-D.C.), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.).

The text of the letter is available here.