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This Week in the Watershed

Another Outrageous Attack on Clean Water and the Champions Who Stood up to It

NewPhoto by Neil Ever Osborne/iLCP.

Just this week another outrageous attempt to undermine the historic Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint rose, this time in the halls of Congress. Here's what happened:

Representatives Bob Goodlatte (VA) and Glenn Thompson (PA) offered an amendment to the Interior and Environment Appropriations bill that would gut the federal-state effort to clean up our Bay and its rivers and streams.

The Interior and Environment Appropriations bill sets funding levels for many important things, including EPA's work to Save the Bay. Mr. Goodlatte's Amendment #57 would keep EPA from using any funds to take "backstop" actions against states failing to meet their pollution-reduction goals set under the Blueprint. These backstop actions are what give the Blueprint its "teeth,” the very things that set it apart from any previous federal-state Bay cleanup effort. Previous efforts all lacked meaningful consequences for failure to reduce pollution. The Blueprint holds polluters accountable. And this summer's improving water quality and abundance of underwater grasses are a testament to the fact that it's working!

CBF President Will Baker sent a letter to representatives from the Bay region, urging them to vote NO on Mr. Goodlatte's amendment and asking them to redouble their support for the watershed states, communities, and farmers who are on the front lines of this historic restoration effort.

Yet still, late yesterday, the House passed Mr. Goodlatte’s damaging Amendment #57 that undermines the Blueprint clean-up effort—in direct opposition to the will of Bay states and residents.

Although we're disappointed the amendment passed, there is a silver lining worth celebrating. In an unusual show of unity for Washington these days, the vote demonstrates that a bipartisan group of Bay legislators are standing strong in support of the Blueprint, a federal-state collaboration that is working!

CBF would like particularly to commend the efforts of Reps. Chris Van Hollen (MD) and Bobby Scott (VA), who led efforts to defeat this damaging amendment.

And here is a breakdown of the Bay delegation vote on the amendment:

FOR (in support of the bad amendment): Representatives Barletta, Brat, Collins, Costello, Dent, Goodlatte, Griffith, Hurt, Jenkins, Katko, Marino, McKinley, Meehan, Mooney, Perry, Pitts, Reed, Rothfus, Shuster, and Thompson.

AGAINST (in support of clean water): Representatives Beyer, Carney, Cartwright, Comstock, Connolly, Cummings, Delaney, Edwards, Forbes, Gibson, Hanna, Harris, Hoyer, Rigell, Ruppersberger, Sarbanes, Scott, Van Hollen, and Wittman.

We are incredibly grateful to those above who stood up for clean water, in opposition to this amendment. They truly are champions of our Bay and its rivers and streams. If you live in their districts, please take a moment now to thank them.

The Appropriations bill still has to be reconciled with the Senate's version before it heads towards the President's desk for signature. We will keep you posted about how you can help ensure this harmful amendment isn't included in the final bill. Until then, thanks for your continued support. These encouraging signs of collaboration simply would not be possible without you speaking up for the Bay, its critters, and our communities.

—Alix Murdoch, CBF's Federal Policy Director


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Al Partin

It doesn't matter who I am. What matters is that 54 years ago I grew up on the Lafayette river within sight of what was then the D&S Piers (Destroyer and Submarine). When I was a kid we did all sorts of water recreation in that river. We could catch half a bushel of adult blue crabs just by netting them off the bulkhead of the local cove because they were easy to spot through clear water. Back then you could see ships tied up at the D&S Piers emptying their sewage into the river. Today when I go back to the old hood that cove we used to crab in is a cesspool. It may not be as self evident as the nose on our face but there is a dire need to embrace and commit to a mindset of 'full life cycle' consideration so as to envision future consequences before the fact to prevent them from materializing and then having to expensively mitigate them. We didn't actually come into this world with nothing. We came into this world with the inherent responsibility to take care of it, to be good stewards of the resources that sustain us all, all over the world. If the military of this government contributed to pollution, the government, EPA, whatever, should own up to a substantial stake in reversing the damage done. Thank you

Shireen Parsons

I grew up in Washington DC, and my parents wouldn't let my brother and me splash in the Chesapeake Bay or the Potomac river -- or eat crabs or fish from the Bay or the river -- because of the known pollution. Now, 70 years later, those two water bodies are STILL contaminated. It's a shame and a disgrace!!!

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