As Washington lawmakers hash out a federal budget deal, Gov. Larry Hogan has asked U.S. Senate leaders to kill a provision in a House spending bill that would strip the Environmental Protection Agency of its authority in Chesapeake Bay cleanup work.
Hogan sent the request in writing to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer this week. He sent the letter as governor and as the current chairman of the Chesapeake Executive Council, a panel of the governors of six bay-watershed states and other officials.
“If it becomes law, this amendment will prohibit the use of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) funds for enforcement policies and procedures that are necessary for achieving pollution reductions in the Chesapeake Bay watershed,” Hogan wrote. “While I strongly support the multi-jurisdictional approach to achieving clean water — which is working — it would be unwise to effectively remove the ability of the Clean Water Act to function as designed.”
In September, the amendment was attached to a House spending bill funding the EPA and U.S. Labor Department, but has not been included in the two recent efforts to fund the government and stave off federal shutdowns. It was offered by Virginia Rep. Bob Goodlatte, a Republican who believes the EPA exceeds its authority by enforcing state-by-state pollution reduction goals.
Hogan’s plea comes as Congress faces a March 23 deadline to devise another plan to fund the government, this time potentially through the Sept. 30 end of the current fiscal year.
Meanwhile, a $4.4 trillion budget plan President Donald Trump unveiled Monday would cut the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program by 90 percent. The program coordinates and enforces efforts across the bay watershed states to reduce the load of pollution that washes into the bay.
Asked if Hogan is concerned that the Goodlatte amendment could be included in a future budget, Maryland Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles said the administration intends “to remain vigilant.”
“Given the risks of defunding the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program or the role of EPA in environmental regulation … it’s important to send a strong bipartisan message that we need EPA to play an important and constructive role,” Grumbles said.