Senate Committee passes Chesapeake bill on voice vote

Created: 6/30/10 (Wed) | Topic: Issues


Today, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed S. 1816 by a voice vote.

The foundation of Sen. Benjamin Cardin’s (D-Md.) Chesapeake Bay legislation is to establish federal authority to implement, and state and federal authority to enforce, Clean Water Act (CWA) standards against nonpoint sources.

The amendment adopted by the committee limits the EPA’s direct authority to issue 402 permits for nonpoint source pollution. According to AFBF, the bill retains the following problematic and significant changes to the CWA:  

1. The bill approved by the EPW committee gives the EPA the authority to control and approve/disapprove all aspects of a state’s Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) implementation plan; current law contains no such authority. The EPA and states will adopt “standards for approval” for state implementation plans. Those standards will never be approved unless an implementation plan includes state authorization to require the issuance of 402 permits to nonpoint sources.

2. The bill adopted by the committee gives the EPA the authority to require that all aspects of a state water quality implementation plan be enforceable with permits or otherwise binding regulations. No such requirement exists in current law.

3. Under the bill approved by the committee, the EPA can “take over” and enforce any and all aspects of a states nonpoint source implementation plan – including 402 permits.  No such authority exists in current law.

4. Under the bill approved by the committee, states are authorized to issue 402 permits to nonpoint sources. Under this provision, if a state were to issue a 402 permit to a nonpoint sources and the EPA were then to take over a state’s program, the EPA would be authorized to enforce any existing state-issued permit. This authority to enforce would also be extended to private citizens through citizen lawsuit provisions in the CWA. 

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