The US House of Representatives voted Friday night, February 18 by 230-195 to delay federal funding for the EPA’s regulatory oversight of the regulations to reduce the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) in the Chesapeake Bay. The measure, an amendment to the continuing resolution to fund the federal government from March 4 through the end of September, was introduced earlier in the week by Rep. Goodlatte (R-Va). See February 17 MACo blog post.
According to a Baltimore Sun blog,
Representative Andy Harris (R-Md) and Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md) voted with the majority to block funding for the federal polution-reduction plan, which was finalized six weeks ago after more than two years of back-and-forth negotiations with Maryland and the other five states that drain into the bay. The state’s Democratic members opposed the blockage. Harris represents the Eastern Shore along with part of the Baltimore area, and the EPA’s bay diet has angered farmers there, who complain they’re already doing plenty to protect the bay. The first-term congressman issued a statement stressing that the vote only delays the bay diet, but doesn’t repeal it.
The seven-month delay allows more time for all stakeholders to fully review and understand the proposed rules, have the opportunity to resolve differences, assure a more open and transparent process and assess the effect on local economies and our business community’s ability to create jobs,” Harris said.
The remaining members of the Maryland delegation voted against the measure including Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md), who helped lead the floor debate against the amendment. In a Washington Post blog:
Maryland. Gov. Martin O’Malley and other Democrats praised the EPA’s plan when it was unveiled in December. And Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the House Minority Whip, said Friday that he was “strongly opposed” to Goodlatte’s measure. “This amendment would prevent the EPA from continuing efforts to clean up the bay, and appears to prohibit any additional federal assistance to the states to help meet their restoration goals,” Hoyer said. “The costs of doing nothing far outweigh the cost of meeting these goals.”
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s President Will Baker issued a press statement Friday stating:
With this single budget amendment, the House has voted to undo 25 years’ worth of bi-partisan and broad-based efforts to save the Chesapeake Bay.