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Chesapeake Bay Watershed Battle Continues

Chesapeake Bay Watershed Battle Continues
Public confidence has been undermined by refusal to improve model.

The House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy, and Forestry held a public hearing Thursday to review the implementation of Phase II of the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load Watershed Implementation Plans. The committee heard that implementation of the TMDL is affecting communities in six states and the District of Columbia. Those states are now in the second phase of a three-part process to limit discharge into the Bay. Several of the states have now raised concerns about the cost and the regulatory burden they face in meeting the new limits.

Committee Chairman Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., said it is imperative for members of this subcommittee to understand what is being asked of the counties, towns and municipalities. He noted that 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.

The American Farm Bureau Federation says the EPA's refusal to take the time to improve its Chesapeake Bay Watershed nutrient management model is undermining the public's confidence. Testifying on behalf of Farm Bureau, Carl Shaffer, president of the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, said this refusal could cause farmers and other stakeholders in the watershed to spend scarce resources on conservation measures directed to the wrong sources or the wrong areas.

Shaffer said that unfortunately, in their view, recent regulatory actions by EPA to micromanage and dictate environmental performance in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed have needlessly and unlawfully usurped the responsibilities that the Clean Water Act. Shaffer added that as taxpayers, Farm Bureau members across the nation are concerned that millions of dollars can be potentially spent to chase paper compliance with a model that uses faulty assumptions rather than valid and readily available data.

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