Subcommittee Stresses EPA's Overreach with Chesapeake Bay Program

Mar 16, 2011

Tamara Hinton, 202.225.0184

WASHINGTON – Today, Rep. Glenn "GT" Thompson, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy, and Forestry held a public hearing to further review the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), agricultural practices, and their implications on national watersheds.

Members of the subcommittee highlighted the importance of conservation programs and their impact on the health of the Chesapeake Bay, as well as the voluntary steps farmers have taken to preserve and protect this watershed. There are concerns that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is not recognizing the contribution producers have made to ensuring a healthy bay. Additionally, there are concerns that EPA is not considering the economic consequences of its Chesapeake Bay cleanup program on the agricultural community.

Further, there are concerns that EPA could use the process from this effort and eventually apply it to other watersheds across the country since the agency considers the Chesapeake Bay program a model. Farmers working in those areas would be subjected to these onerous regulations.

“Despite the successful conservation efforts to improve runoff and water quality at the state and local level, the EPA continues its quixotic quest to impose unreasonable regulatory mandates on the Chesapeake Bay Watershed without sound methods of determining their impact on the health or economic viability of the Bay and the region’s agricultural communities. During the hearing, many Republicans and Democrats voiced substantial and warranted concerns that the EPA is reaching far beyond its statutory authority granted by Congress and continually fails to comprehend the financial hardships these regulations will impose on communities within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Through current investments and a focus on improved management practices at the state level, we can restore the Chesapeake Bay while also maintaining the economic livelihood of these communities,” said Chairman Glenn Thompson (R-PA).

"This subcommittee has worked for a long time to make sure Chesapeake Bay farmers, who already face some of the most stringent environmental regulations in the United States, are put on the same level of playing field as those in other regions. I'm concerned that once again Bay farmers are being placed at a financial and competitive disadvantage through the TMDL. Without sharing all information used to develop load allocations and despite glaring discrepancies between data collected by various government agencies, EPA is moving forward with increased regulation at a rapid pace. It is important that EPA begin to work with farmers and ranchers, who have always been the best advocates for resource conservation, to ensure environmental stewardship across the Chesapeake Bay Watershed while minimizing burdens on producers," said Ranking Member Tim Holden (D-PA).

Written testimony provided by the witnesses is available below and can be found on the Committee's website by clicking here.

Witness List:

Panel I

Dave White, Chief, Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.

Bob Perciasepe, Deputy Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C.

Doug Domenech, Secretary of Natural Resources, Commonwealth of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia

Panel II

Carl Shaffer, President, Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, Mifflin Township, Pennsylvania

Lynne Hoot, Executive Director, Maryland Association of Soil Conservation Districts, Maryland Grain Producers Association, Edgewater, Maryland

Tom Hebert, Senior Advisor, Agricultural Nutrient Policy Council, Washington, D.C.

Hobey Bauhan, President, Virginia Poultry Federation, Harrisonburg, Virginia