Cardin Chesapeake Bay Bill Could Be Amended, Move to Senate Floor

Federal legislation introduced by Maryland Senator Benjamin Cardin, S. 1816, will be considered today by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.   The bill codifies some of executive requirements for total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) but also provides funding for local governments to implement stormwater management upgrades.  The farming community has expressed concerns about the bill.  If the bill has sufficient committee support, it will come to the Senate floor for a vote.  From a June 29 Baltimore Sun blog post:

The Chesapeake Bay cleanup bill loved by environmentalists and hated by farmers gets its first test in Washington Wednesday — though certainly not its last. 

S. 1816, introduced by Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, D-Md, is slated for markup in the Environment and Public Works Committee. Cardin, a member of the committee, said Tuesday he’s confident he has enough support there to get the measure to the Senate floor. The question is, what will it look like after the marking-up is done?

Cardin plans to introduce an extensively amended bill – “in the nature of a substitute” – that he said attempts to clarify and ease farmers’ concerns about opening the door wide to broader federal regulation of farming and land use. …

The [American Farm Bureau’s] Don Parrish says farmers oppose Cardin’s bill because they believe it would give sweeping new authority to the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate land use of all types, not just farming.  The bill also broadens the scope for citizen groups to file lawsuits against farms and even state officials for failure to clean up enough, Parrish says.  … 

 The Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Doug Siglin said Cardin is savvy enough to realize he needs conservative Democrat and even some Republican votes to get Senate leaders to take up the bill.  With “a ton of amendments” already filed, Siglin says he expects a much-changed bill to emerge from the committee, but one that he’s confident should still give added impetus to the long-running bay restoration.

Maryland Representative Elijah Cummings has introduced companion legislation in the House, HR 3852.

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