Cardin Announces Details of Draft Chesapeake Bay Reauthorization, Including New Funding For States and New Enforcement Provision

September 8, 2009 - 16:51


Amendment to the Clean Water Act strengthens the Chesapeake Bay Program Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), chairman of the Environment and Public Works Water and Wildlife Subcommittee that has jurisdiction over the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Chesapeake Bay Program, today released details of the Chesapeake Bay Ecosystem Restoration Act of 2009. The Cardin-authored reauthorization gives state and local governments of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Area strong new enforcement tools and more than $1.5 billion in new grant authority to restore the Bay’s health and – for the first time – sets a firm deadline of May 2020 for all restoration efforts to be in place. The bill also establishes a flexible pollution trading program that is designed to lower compliance costs while also providing Bay watershed farmers with added financial incentives to implement conservation practices on their lands. In addition, the bill puts the force of law behind a recent Executive Order from President Obama that requires every federal department to work toward Bay restoration. “The Chesapeake Bay is the heart of our region. It is where we work, play, farm, and enjoy the beauty and abundance of the natural resources that surround us. But as anyone who has experienced the shortage of blue crabs and oysters or read about ‘dead zones’ in the water knows, the Bay continues to be in trouble. We’ve made great strides in the last few decades through the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program, but we remain far from attaining the goals necessary to restore the Bay to a healthy state, one that can sustain native fish and wildlife and maintain the viability of our farmland and regional economy for the near- and long-term future,” said Senator Cardin. “Pollution and water contamination are not confined by state or local borders and it will take an aggressive, regional effort to restore the health and vitality of this national treasure. The Chesapeake Bay Ecosystem Reauthorization Act of 2009 provides the states within the Bay Watershed Area unprecedented resources, including expanded authority and more than $1.5 billion for local jurisdictions to clean up the Bay. With this generous federal assistance, states will have the ability to set and meet enforceable targets for success by 2020 – a full five years earlier than planned by the current governing Chesapeake Bay Executive Council. “Effective actions taken by the Bay Watershed states are so crucial to this cleanup process that we have backed up greater funding for localities with new authority for the EPA to step in and accomplish the needed cleanup if states fail to act. While I am confident that the states will work toward meeting their set goals, I am pleased that in the legislation, as prepared, EPA finally will have the ability to apply consequences, if states fail to do their part to help clean up the Bay.” As chairman of the Water and Wildlife Subcommittee, Senator Cardin held hearings on the Chesapeake Bay earlier this year in Annapolis and Washington, DC, as he gathered testimony in preparing the legislation released today. The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in North America, with a length of 200 miles and 11,684 miles of tidal shoreline, more than the entire U.S. West Coast. About 100,000 streams and rivers thread through the Chesapeake’s 64,000-square-mile watershed, which is home to almost 17 million people across Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. The Chesapeake Bay supports more than 3,600 species of plants, fish and animals. BILL SUMMARY • The Cardin-authored Chesapeake Bay Ecosystem Reauthorization Act of 2009 amends section 117 of the Clean Water Act, which governs the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program. The bill codifies President’ Obama’s Chesapeake Bay Executive Order, which requires annual Federal Action Plans across all federal departments to restore the Bay. • The legislation gives the states of the Chesapeake Bay strong new tools to restore the Bay and for the first time sets a firm deadline of 2020 for all restoration efforts to be in place. Unlike earlier, missed deadlines, this one will become a legally binding part of the Clean Water Act. • The bill also significantly expands federal grants. The Bay Restoration bill authorizes a new $1.5 billion grants program to control urban/suburban polluted stormwater, the only pollution sector that is still growing. Grants to the states, small watershed organizations, and for comprehensive monitoring programs are all newly created or expanded in the draft bill. • The bill codifies President Obama’s Chesapeake Bay Executive Order, which requires annual Federal Action Plans across all federal departments to restore the Bay. • Other Provisions: makes the ban on Asian oysters statutory; continues and expands the nutria eradication program on the Delmarva; places a moratorium on the menhaden reduction fishery; and allows for citizen suits. • The basic structure of the Bay Program (a federal-state partnership governed by the Executive Council and administered by EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program Office in Annapolis) is retained. SECTION-BY-SECTION OVERVIEW SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE This Act may be cited as the Chesapeake Bay Ecosystem Restoration Act of 2009. SEC. 2. FINDINGS SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS [replaces current subsection 117(a)] [current subsection 117(b) “Continuation of the Chesapeake Bay Program” and subsection 117(c) “Interagency Agreements” are both unchanged]. SEC. 4. ASSISTANCE GRANTS Current subsection 117(d)(2)(B) is amended by renaming the “Small Watershed Grants Program” the “Chesapeake bay stewardship grants program.” SEC. 5. IMPLEMENTATION AND MONITORING GRANTS Current Section 117(e) is replaced with a new section on implementation and monitoring grants. Headwater states (DE, NY and WV) are made eligible for implementation grants for the first time. The monitoring program is broken into two parts: one for freshwater and one for estuarine. USGS and NOAA along with the River Basin Commissions are given roles in planning the monitoring programs. States implement the monitoring programs, supported by grants. SEC. 6. FEDERAL ANNUAL ACTION PLAN AND PROGRESS REPORT Current Section 117 (f) “Federal Facilities and Budget Coordination” is deleted and replaced with “Federal Annual Action Plan and Progress Report.” This codifies the actions in President Obama’s Executive Order of May 12, 2009. SEC. 7. CHESAPEAKE BAY PROGRAM Current Section 117(g) provides for the Management Strategies and Small Watershed Grants Program. The only changes are that the Small Watershed Grants Program name is updated to Chesapeake Bay stewardship grants program and the program is expanded to include activities now covered by the “large watershed grants” program. These changes simply reflect current practice. SEC. 8. WATER QUALITY PROTECTION MEASURES—TMDLS Current Section 117 (h) regarding a “Study of the Chesapeake Bay Program” is deleted and replaced with language that requires EPA to establish a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for the Bay no later than December 31, 2010. SEC. 9. WATER QUALITY PROTECTION MEASURES—ACTIONS BY STATES Current Section 117 (i) regarding a “Special Study of Living Resource Response” is deleted and replaced with a four-part section outlining specific state actions. (1) Tributary implementation plans. To implement the TMDL. (2) Issuance of permits. (3) Municipal separate stormwater sewer system permits. (4) Phosphate ban. SEC. 10. WATER QUALITY PROTECTION MEASURES—FEDERAL ACTIONS Current Section 117 (j) “Authorization of Appropriations” is moved to a new Section (o). Sections (j) through (n) are new. (j) Outlines a series of actions EPA must take to improve water quality. They include: (1) Establish minimum criteria for the State Tributary Implementation Plans. (2) Establish a process for approval/disapproval of plans and for up-dating plans (3) Provide for federal tributary implementation plans and loss of state funds if states fail to act (4) Establish a nitrogen and phosphorus trading program (5) Establish watershed permits (6) Establish guidance and model ordinances for managing stormwater runoff in municipal settings as well as a grants program for municipalities to meet the requirements (7) Report to Congress on commercial products that impact water quality SEC. 11. ADDITIONAL WATER QUALITY PROTECTION MEASURES Other additions to Section 117: (k) Prohibition on Introduction of Asian Oysters. (l) Chesapeake Nutria Eradication Program. (m) Prohibition on Commercial Harvesting of Menhaden. (n) Effect on Other Requirements.— (1) All other Clean Water Act provisions remain in effect (2) Citizen suit provisions are authorized for violations by states or EPA (o) Authorization of Appropriations.— (1) Implementation Grants: $80 million annually (2) Monitoring Grants: $5 million annually each for freshwater and estuarine (3) MS4 Planning grants for municipalities: $10 million (4) MS4 Implementation grants for municipalities: $1.5 billion (5) Nutria Eradication Grants: $4 million annually
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