Letter Asks EPA to Extend Comment Period on Chesapeake Bay Plans

On Friday, Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), along with 20 other Members of Congress, sent a letter to President Barack Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency to request an extension on the comment period of the proposed Total Maximum Daily Load and the states’ Watershed Implementation Plans.

The EPA is proposing a draft TMDL, which sets the limit on the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment discharged into the Chesapeake Bay and each of its tributaries by different types of sources.  The limits that the EPA is proposing have far reaching consequences for everyone who lives, works and farms in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. 

The EPA has currently set a 45-day comment period for citizens to comment on the proposed TMDL. However, the last public meeting on the TMDL is scheduled for four days before the comment period closes.

Goodlatte writes, given the major impact the TMDL will have on the Bay states, and the precedent that the EPA has stated this will have for the rest of the country, a 45-day comment period is inadequate.

The letter request that the EPA extend the comment period to 120 days to give people more time to study the TMDL, attend the public meetings and draft their comments. 

“This TMDL process represents the heavy hand of the federal government in over-regulating our states and local economies” says Goodlatte.  “The current TMDL has far-reaching impacts on localities throughout the Bay watershed. It has the potential to cost localities millions to comply while adding significant compliance costs onto businesses and farmers already hard-hit in this economy. Those affected need more time to study this process and the 45-day comment is entirely insufficient.”

Goodlatte has introduced bipartisan legislation, the Chesapeake Bay Program Re-authorization and Improvement Act, which will protect the health of the Chesapeake Bay while also ensuring the strength and vitality of family farms and local communities within the Bay Watershed. 

Specifically, the bill sets up new programs to give farmers, homebuilders, and localities new ways to meet their water quality goals.  The bill makes sure that the agencies are using common sense when regulating water quality goals for localities and calls for a review of the EPA’s Bay Model.

“The people who call the Bay Watershed home are the ones who are the most concerned about protecting and restoring the Chesapeake Bay,” says Goodlatte.  “Unfortunately, too often these hardworking individuals are cast as villains and placed in a position where restoring the Bay is pitted against the economic livelihoods of their communities.  We can restore the Bay while also maintaining the economic livelihood of these communities.”