Senator Cardin Predicts Future of Bay TMDL, Waters of US Rule

A Bay Journal article (2016-12-06) reported that United States Senator Ben Cardin expressed concern over the future of Chesapeake Bay restoration effort, the controversial “Waters of the United States” rule, and the Clean Power Plan at a meeting with environmental groups in Annapolis of December 5. According to the article, Cardin urged the attendees to assist him in fending off actions by Congress and the incoming Donald Trump administration to weaken ongoing Bay restoration requirements. Cardin also asked the attendees to enlist local and state officials in their efforts.

On the topic of the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), Cardin expressed concern about attempts to block enforcement by the United State Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):

Cardin warned that the Bay restoration effort is “under direct assault” by national farm and builder groups opposed to the role the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has played in forcing states to reduce their nutrient pollution of the Chesapeake. …

But Cardin predicted that with Republicans in control of Congress and the White House, the Farm Bureau and others would make another attempt to block EPA from enforcing the Bay TMDL. …

Local and state officials have worked together for years to set the Bay pollution reduction goals and determine how best to achieve them, the Maryland senator said. But with the TMDL, EPA holds everyone accountable, he said. “There’s got to be accountability,” he said.

Outside of the move to strip EPA’s authority to enforce TMDLs, Cardin said he didn’t expect any direct assaults on the Bay restoration effort in the coming year.

Cardin was far more negative about the fate of the Clean Power Plan and Waters of the US rule:

Cardin predicted the demise of Obama environmental regulations such as the Clean Power Plan, aimed at reducing climate-altering emissions from power plants, and such as the Clean Water Rule, which would have clarified federal jurisdiction over disturbances in headwaters and intermittent streams. While those rules might have helped restore the Chesapeake, Cardin said, there’s little Bay advocates can do to resist the political backlash against them from other parts of the nation.

The article noted that Cardin was also concerned about the future of EPA funding for Bay initiatives due to potential broad cuts to EPA’s budget. However, Cardin was optimistic that existing Bay restoration progress could be preserved:

“We are going to have to repackage … going to have to be strategic,” he said. He predicted environmentalists would suffer losses, but he said he remained optimistic that they could “protect the progress” that’s been made to date in restoring the Chesapeake Bay.

Useful Links

Senator Benjamin Cardin Webpage

EPA Webpage on Chesapeake Bay TMDL

Prior Conduit Street Article on the Trump Administration and the Bay TMDL

NACo “Waters of the US” Resource Page

Prior Conduit Street Coverage of “Waters of the US” Rule