Sarbanes Joins Effort Urging EPA to Enforce Pollution Reduction Targets and Improve the Health of the Chesapeake Bay

Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.) today joined U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) in urging U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler to clarify his agency’s position on enforcing the Chesapeake Bay Agreement Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) pollution reduction targets.

“We were deeply disturbed by reports that, at the January 3, 2020 meeting of the Chesapeake Bay Commission, EPA Chesapeake Bay Program Director Dana Aunkst reportedly said that the Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) was ‘aspirational’ and that the 2025 targets were ‘not enforceable,’” the Members wrote. “This is totally contrary to the intent of this decade-long effort and, if it is the position of the EPA, risks critical progress to restore the Chesapeake Bay.”

The Members continued: “The Courts have upheld the legality of the Bay TMDL. As the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has noted, the ‘Clean Water Act does not simply direct the publication of the TMDL; it is one step in a process with several layers, each placing primary responsibility for pollution controls in state hands with ‘backstop authority’ vested in the EPA.’”

The Members concluded: “The Bay TMDL has made strong progress towards cleanup of this national treasure and economic engine in our region. We are at a critical moment, when all partners must step up their commitment to reach the 2025 goals. The EPA has a statutory obligation to be an enforcement backstop in this vital project, and we fully expect it to fulfill that role. We look forward to receiving your response by January 24, 2020.”

In addition to Congressman Sarbanes and Senator Van Hollen, the letter was signed by Environment and Public Works Committee Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.), and Representatives Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-Va.), Donald S. Beyer, Jr. (D-Va.), C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.), Anthony G. Brown (D-Md.), Elaine G. Luria (D-Va.), Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.), David Trone (D-Md.), A. Donald McEachin (D-Va.), Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.).