June 30, 2010

CARDIN URGES PROTECTIONS FOR AMERICA'S GREAT WATER BODIES, INCLUDING CHESAPEAKE BAY

Commends EPW for taking up bill to require feds to pay their fair share to clean up local stormwater pollution

Washington , DC - U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), chairman of the Senate Water and Wildlife Subcommittee, today urged his colleagues on the Environment and Public Works Committee to swiftly pass a series of major bills designed to protect our nation's treasured waters from the Long Island Sound to San Francisco Bay and Puget Sound to the Gulf of Mexico. Chief among these bills is the Cardin-authored Chesapeake Clean Water and Ecosystem Restoration Act that will help protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed, which stretches across six states and the District of Columbia, from New York to Virginia. Senator Cardin praised the committee for also addressing the need for the federal government to pay localities for the cleanup of stormwater pollution generated by the federal government.
 
"America has proudly protected our treasured landscapes, from Yosemite and Yellowstone to the Great Smokies and Cape Hatteras," said Senator Cardin, author of the Chesapeake Clean Water Act.  "We desperately need major action now to provide the same level of protection to our great water bodies.  A nation blessed with such natural treasures must provide the stewardship they so richly deserve, and this collective group of bills will do just that."
 
The bills expected to be approved during today's business meeting of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee include:
 
·          S. 1816, Chesapeake Clean Water and Ecosystem Restoration Act of 2009
·          S. 1311, Gulf of Mexico Restoration and Protection Act
·          S. 3073, Great Lakes Ecosystem Protection Act of 2010
·          S. 3539, San Francisco Bay Restoration Act
·          S. __, Columbia River Basin Restoration Act of 2010
·          S. 2739, Puget Sound Recovery Act of 2009
·          S. 3119, Long Island Sound Restoration and Stewardship Act
·          H.R. 4715, Clean Estuaries Act of 2010
·          S. 3481, A bill to amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to clarify Federal responsibility for stormwater pollution
 
 
S. 1816, Chesapeake Clean Water and Ecosystem Restoration Act of 2009
 
The Chesapeake Clean Water and Ecosystem Act of 2009 amends the Clean Water Act and reauthorizes the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Chesapeake Bay Program. The bill gives state and local governments of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed expanded authority, $1.5 billion in new grant authorization, and strong new enforcement tools, to help restore the Bay's health. The reauthorization requires that at least 10% of funds for implementation grants be made available to the states of Delaware, New York, and West Virginia and that at least 20% of such funds be made available to states to provide technical assistance to agricultural producers and foresters.
 
With federal assistance, states will have the ability to set and meet enforceable targets for success by 2025. 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.   
 
"Today we take a major step forward in writing the next chapter in the history of one of America's most cherished and celebrated bodies of water - the Chesapeake Bay.  In developing this important legislation, we listened carefully to our watershed partners, our watermen, our farmers, and others whose livelihood depends on a viable Chesapeake. The result is a robust plan that will put us on a realistic but aggressive path to restoring the Bay to a healthy state that can sustain native fish, wildlife, farmland, and our regional economy," said Senator Cardin.
 
S. 1311, Gulf of Mexico Restoration and Protection Act
This bill amends the Clean Water Act to reestablish a Gulf of Mexico Program Office within the EPA. The office will coordinate and implement priority state- and community-led restoration plans and projects that will result in measurable improvements to water quality and living resources of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem.
 
S. 3073, Great Lakes Ecosystem Protection Act of 2010
This bill establishes a Great Lakes Leadership Council to develop and establish Great Lakes protection and restoration policy; approve long-term goals and objectives relating to Great Lakes protection and restoration; and help seek consensus among government units and stakeholders relating to Great Lakes protection and restoration. It also authorizes the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative which will target the most significant environmental problems in the Great Lakes ecosystem. 
 
S. 3539, San Francisco Bay Restoration Act
The bill amends the Clean Water Act to establish a grant program to assist in the restoration of the San Francisco Bay. It authorizes the EPA Administrator to provide grants to State and local agencies, and public or nonprofit agencies, institutions, and organizations, for ecosystem restoration projects and habitat improvement for fish, waterfowl, and wildlife, in accordance with the priorities described in the comprehensive conservation and management plan for the San Francisco Bay estuary developed under the Clean Water Act. 
 

S. __, Columbia River Basin Restoration Act of 2010
The bill would establish within EPA a Columbia Basin Restoration Program focused on reducing toxic contamination throughout the Columbia River Basin. The program would employ a collaborative stakeholder-based effort and build on the work and structure of the existing Columbia River Toxics Reductions Working Group, which was convened in 2005, and the Lower Columbia River National Estuary Program. 
 
S. 2739, Puget Sound Recovery Act of 2009
Puget Sound was given priority status in the 1987 amendments to the Clean Water Act and became one of the original programs in the National Estuary Program (NEP). The bill would provide funding to implement the Puget Sound Action Agenda and would increase EPA accountability for funding provided. The President would be required to submit a crosscut budget for each federal agency that is involved in the Puget Sound restoration.
 
S. 3119, Long Island Sound Restoration and Stewardship Act
This bill authorizes $40 million for projects to protect the Sound's water quality through waste water treatment plant upgrades and nitrogen reduction in distressed communities. It extends the Long Island Sound Stewardship Act of 2006, which was created to identify, protect, and enhance significant open space, ecological and recreational sites along the Sound, through 2015. Among other provisions, the bill authorizes a pilot project demonstrating nutrient bioextraction in the Sound.
 
H.R. 4715, Clean Estuaries Act of 2010
The bill amends the Clean Water Act to reauthorize and strengthen the National Estuary Program and authorizes appropriations for FY2011-FY2016 for management conferences, grants, and monitoring the administration of plans. The goal of these conferences, as outlined in the bill, is to guide estuary restoration.   
 
S. 3481, A bill to amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to clarify Federal responsibility for stormwater pollution
This bill would require the federal government to comply with local stormwater fees that are used to treat and manage polluted stormwater runoff. It clarifies that reasonable service charges described in the Clean Water Act include reasonable fees or assessments made for the purpose of stormwater management and that appropriated funds may be used to pay such fees, which are not considered a tax.
 
"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.  "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. This legislation will remove all ambiguity about the responsibility of the federal government to pay the normal and customary stormwater fees administered by local governments forced to deal with this pollution."