House of Representatives Subcommittee Hears Agriculture’s TMDL Concerns

A March 16 Baltimore Sun article discusses a recently held congressional hearing on the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Chespapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL).  The hearing, held by a House agriculture subcommittee, gave a chance for farmers to express their concerns over the TMDL requirements.  Members questioned EPA’s reachout to the agricultural community and the data upon which the TMDL assumptions are based.

[S]pokesmen for regional and national farm groups accused the Obama administration of pressing bay states to crack down on their poultry and livestock farms when some research indicates that farmers have voluntarily reduced their pollution of the Chesapeake.

House members of both parties on the panel joined in, grilling and chastising Deputy EPA Administrator Robert Perciasepe for pressing ahead with the bay cleanup plan in the face of such criticism and a lawsuit challenging the agency’s legal authority.

You people have created a hornet’s nest out there,” said Rep. Collin C. Peterson, a Minnesota Democrat, who accused the EPA of issuing regulations in response to environmental groups’ lawsuits without consulting farmers and other affected parties.  …

Others questioned the computer model the EPA used to determine the pollution reductions needed to restore the bay. They said the EPA had relied on faulty information about farming in the 64,000-square-mile watershed and had not properly credited what farmers have done so far.

The hearing was held after a Virginia Congressman, Republic Robert Goodlatte, sponsored legislation that passed the House of Representatives blocking the EPA from spending funds for TMDL enforcement for at least six months.  (See the  previous Conduit Street post.)  While the subcommittee members were critical of EPA’s handling of the TMDL, their committee lacks direct authority over the agency.

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