A May 27 Star Democrat article reported that United States Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md) and Bob Casey Jr. (D-Pa) have urged the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide more financial and technical support to farmers in the Susquehanna River Basin for water pollution reductions required under the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL). The two senators outlined their request in a letter sent to United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. From the article:
The USDA is part of the Federal Leadership Committee for the Chesapeake Bay, and Cardin and Casey are calling on the federal agency to “live up to the leadership role it’s been given in our region by providing improved financial and technical resources necessary for Susequehanna [sic] River Basin and Chesapeake Bay farmers to meet the goals of the state [watershed implementation plans],” the letter to Vilsack reads.
“We are committed to helping our farmers and committed to helping reduce the mount of pollution that reaches the Susquehanna River Basin and Chesapeake Bay Watershed,” said Cardin, a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “We can do both effectively, with the right resources.”
As previously reported on Conduit Street, there is growing concern that the Maryland region will fail to meet its 2017 nutrient reduction targets under the Bay TMDL, largely due to pollution from Pennsylvania coming down the Susquehanna River. The Star Democrat article referenced the efforts of some Maryland legislators to have the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) initiate enforcement action against Pennsylvania.
Maryland lawmakers in past years have expressed concern over the pollution coming down the Susquehanna and flowing into the Chesapeake Bay, and have pressed for the federal government to direct more effort at reducing pollution from the Susquehanna.
According to the letter to Vilsack, a group of Maryland legislators recently wrote to the EPA’s Mid-Atlantic regional administrator, urging the EPA to take enforcement actions against Pennsylvania for its failure to meet the nitrogen reduction goals of its state WIP.
“The frustration of these legislators is understandable, but it is our hope that Pennsylvania can meet its commitment without EPA taking enforcement action against the Commonwealth (Pennsylvania),” the letter reads.
“We strongly urge USDA to play a greater role in solidifying the conservation partnership between farmers in Maryland, Pennsylvania and all states of the watershed who must work together to conserve and protect our water resources in our own backyards, as well as downstream,” it reads.