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July 8, 2010

Green thumb down for compromised Bay bill

Environmentalists mostly still seem to be backing Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin's watered-down Chesapeake Bay cleanup bill, despite the concessions he made to get it out of committee a little over a week ago.

One who takes a dimmer view - or who is perhaps less shy about voicing it publicly - is Rena Steinzor, president of the Center for Progressive Reform and a professor at the University of Maryland School of Law.

Steinzor, in a post to the center's blog, contends that Cardin gave away too much in haggling with Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., to gain concessions for farmers in the bay watershed. She calls the resulting compromise "deeply flawed" and "an inexplicable throwback" that gives the Environmental Protection Agency no stronger authority to impose "total maximum daily loads," commonly known as "pollution diets," on the states and communities that drain into the bay and its tributaries.

Cardin spokeswoman Sue Walitsky countered that the legislation still "explicitly recognizes" EPA's authority to set pollution diets for the bay and all the tributaries.  And among other things, it also imposes for the first time a drop-dead deadline on having all the needed cleanup actions in place by 2025.  Even with revisions, Walitsky contends the bill "represents a huge step forwrard for restoration efforts." 

"If indiividuals take the time to review the reported bill carefully, we think that they will agree," Cardin's spokeswoman concluded.

Of course, strong or not, to do anything the bill has to pass both Senate and  House. That remains very much up in the air this election year.  To follow the bill, and see the revised text when it's available, go here.

(AP photo)

Posted by Tim Wheeler at 12:30 PM | | Comments (3)


Why would some "Just say NO" Republican from so far away find the need to create problems and water down our Chesapeake Bay clean-up efforts?

TW: Good question. As I pointed out in earlier blog post about the Cardin bill, the American Farm Bureau and other ag interests are worried it will set a national precedent for federal water pollution law and policy. So they opposed it, fearing it would expand federal authority over the runoff from their fields and animal areas. That's no doubt what got Sen. Inhofe's attention.

Well if you believe that Bay clean-up is a federal issue, you will have to deal with Senators from other States. What an asinine question....

Ok.. also maybe Sen. Inhofe is saving Governor O'Malley's bacon. The Governor has already written to the EPA objecting to the very agricultural requirements that were originally in Sen Cardin's Bill, that is any EPA regulations more stringent than exist in the nation as a whole.
The Bill is a bureacratic disaster in waiting... Just what Maryland needs in a bad economy. Looking at the coming disaster that are TMDLs... maybe the rest of the Senate understands that the Bay isjust the first place this arcane approach is being applied.

Based on early analysis that I have been able to review, this bill should be defeated as it is worse then if we do nothing.

It codifies once again the disasterous regulatory exemption for agricultural runoff contained in the Clean Water Act.

The Cardin bill further defies logic by specifically prohibiting EPA from regulating farm pollution in case the states don't regulate it either.

This is the perfect win for the Farm Bureau and their apologists who will only accept pollution reduction from urban and suburban point sources, which are the most expensive for additional remediation, and that alone will not achieve required nutrient and sediment reductions to "save the bay."

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About the bloggers
Tim WheelerTim Wheeler reports on the environment and Chesapeake Bay. A native of West Virginia, he has focused mainly on Maryland's environment since moving here in 1983. Along the way, he's crewed aboard a skipjack in the bay, canoed under city streets up the Jones Fall from the Inner Harbor, and gone deep underground in a western Maryland coal mine. He loves seafood, rambles in the country and good stories. He hopes to share some here.

Contributor Christy Zuccarini has been blogging about the local DIY craft scene for a year for She brings her pespective on all things handmade to B'More Green, where she will highlight projects you can do yourself as well as crafters who are integrating sustainable methods and materials.

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