June 11, 2010

CARDIN BILL WOULD REQUIRE FEDS TO PAY THEIR FAIR SHARE TO CLEAN UP LOCAL POLLUTION

Washington, DC - U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, has introduced S. 3481, a bill that would require the federal government to comply with local stormwater fees that are used to treat and manage polluted stormwater runoff.  Senator Cardin introduced his bill, which amends the Clean Water Act, in response to recent written decisions that rebuffed or left ambiguous the need for Federal agencies to pay such fees.
 
"I continue to have grave concerns about the failure of the federal government to pay localities for reasonable costs associated with the control and abatement of pollution that is originating on its properties.  At stake is a fundamental issue of equity: polluters should be financially responsible for the pollution that they cause.  That must include the federal government," said Senator Cardin, who also is chairman of the Environment and Public Works Water and Wildlife Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over storm water management issues. 
 
"Annually hundreds of thousands of pounds of pollutants wash off the hardened surfaces in urban areas and into local rivers and streams, threatening the health of our citizens and causing significant environmental degradation. I believe that this Administration recognizes its responsibility to manage the stormwater pollution that comes off federal properties.  But that responsibility needs to translate into payments to the local governments that are forced to deal with this pollution.  When enacted, my legislation will remove all ambiguity about the responsibility of the federal government to pay these normal and customary stormwater fees." 
 
In a June 10 letter, in response to a request from Senator Cardin, Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House's Council on Environmental Quality, wrote that "In passing the Clean Water Act, Congress provided clear authority to impose 'reasonable service charges' on Federal agencies to support the goal of improving the Nation's water resources." However, Sutley's letter did not explicitly say that agencies would be required to pay such fees.  The Government Accountability Office and other federal property owners previously indicated that they are not required to pay the District of Columbia's impervious surfaces fee, set to go into effect in 2011 to help control stormwater runoff.