Carpetbagger. Bob Goodlatte is the 13-term congressman from Virginia’s 6th Congressional District who has blessedly chosen to retire this year. In my opinion he represents just about everything that is wrong with the GOP. Born in Holyoke, Massachusetts and educated at Bates College in Maine, Goodlatte somehow avoids the “carpetbagger” moniker so quickly put on Terry McAuliffe by Virginia’s Republicans. He won his congressional seat at age 39 and has spent the last 26 years in Congress. Yet he goes uncriticized as a “politician for life” by the conservative Newt Gingrich types who claim to eschew such long running elected officials. He is a polluter’s best friend with apparently no concern for the property rights of those negatively affected by the pollution he justifies and defends. However, he’ll be gone soon and you’d think we’re past the damage done by this phony conservative. Oh no.  Even in his final days in office Goodlatte is actively denying people protection of their property rights despite “property rights” supposedly being a core tenet of conservative Republican dogma. What a farce.

Blowing up the blueprint. The Chesapeake Bay represents not only a national treasure but a working laboratory for the protection of property rights. Certainly right thinking conservatives must believe that allowing a small minority of people and corporations to pollute a public waterway unfairly takes away the property rights of non-polluters. In the case of a waterway that borders multiple states, one would think that sensible and honest conservatives would insist that the federal government protect the property rights of all the states.  Isn’t this both a core tenet of conservatism and a reasonable construct of property rights?  Not according to Bob Goodlatte.

The Chesapeake Bay watershed states have claimed to be working together to clean up the Bay for the past forty years. For 31 of those years the effort failed as various states simply ignored their clean up commitments. Then, in 2009, the EPA was authorized to provide scientific leadership and oversight for a new clean-up plan — the Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Blueprint. Progress has been substantial since that time. Despite Virginia being a major beneficiary of the blueprint, one of our own Congressmen has put forth an amendment to curtail the EPA’s role in this effort.  You guessed it, ole Bob Goodlatte sponsored an amendment to H.R. 6147 forbidding the EPA from spending money to provide firm, science-based accountability over the blueprint. As a press release from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation puts it, “Congressman Goodlatte’s amendment would keep EPA from using any funds to provide this “firm accountability” if a state fails to meet its pollution-reduction goals set under the Blueprint.” So much for preservation of property rights from this so-called conservative.

Hall of shame. Bob Goodlatte’s amendment for the protection of raw sewage in public waters passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 213 to 202.  Seven of Virginia’s Representatives (Wittman, Taylor, Scott, McEachin, Beyer, Comstock and Connolly) repudiated Sideshow Bob and his amendment by voting against it. However, four of our so-called representatives (Garrett, Goodlatte, Brat and Griffith) couldn’t find the mental acuity to understand how a clean Chesapeake Bay might help the Commonwealth of Virginia. While it’s no excuse for their buffoonery Garrett, Goodlatte and Griffith have districts far from the Bay. Brat, by comparison, has a district bordering the city of Richmond. What are the voters in the 7th district thinking? Will “Kepone Dave” get re-elected? Here’s a good article about the cleanliness of the James River in Richmond (warning: true but disgusting content)

Going forward. The congressional seat being vacated by Bob Goodlatte’s retirement will be contested by Ben Cline (R) and Jennifer Lewis (D). Cline is a member of the General Assembly and long time Goodlatte toady. Lewis is a bleeding heart liberal with minimal political experience. So far, Lewis has raised $72,000 to Cline’s $787,000. The Cook Partisan Voter Index for the district is R+13. Sadly, Cline will almost certainly win and continue the anti-conservative, anti-Virginia activities of his predecessor.

— Don Rippert 

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11 responses to “Goodbye and Good Riddance to Goodlatte”

  1. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    Looking at the roll call the pattern I see is four amendment supporters from areas with agriculture as a huge industry, and of course Goodlatte chaired that committee before taking Judiciary. What gives me pause about Goodlatte’s position is Rob Whitman’s vote, because his judgement on environmental issues is quite sound and of course his district borders the bay. Many Virginians would probably prefer to see the state’s compliance with this plan policed by state authorities rather than federal, but compliance is still required. The passage of the amendment described does not mean the new plan is abandoned and the progress on the bay will all revert now. It is not a vote of confidence in EPA, obviously.

    I’ve known Goodlatte since long before he ever went to Congress, and while we’ve fallen out of touch I’ve paid attention. DJ’s dismissal of his integrity and intentions, in his signature caustic style, somewhat obscures any discussion on the underlying issue. Why should Virginia cede authority to EPA in this arena, if this is a compact between the states? What were Goodlatte’s stated reasons? I might think him wrong ultimately, but the case was not made.

  2. djrippert Avatar

    “Many Virginians would probably prefer to see the state’s compliance with this plan policed by state authorities rather than federal, but compliance is still required.”

    First, as I’m sure you understand – the Chesapeake Bay is not Lake Monticello. Virginia can’t police themselves and guarantee any results. Pennsylvania is horrific with regard to compliance. Virginia is OK. Maryland is the gold standard. So, a multi-state issue seems tailor made for federal oversight. Second, the EPA provides a balanced and honest scorecard. For the first 31 years of the Chesapeake Bay cleanup the states did their own measurements and lied through their teeth. That’s the point – the EPA is a neutral referee.

    A vote of confidence in the EPA is comical given the history before and after 2009. Prior to 2009 it was a multi-state cluster**** with minimal results. After 2009 it was a scientific and unbiased effort with excellent results. If there ever was a vote of confidence between the EPA and the General Assembly regarding honesty and effectiveness the EPA should win 100% of the time.

    As for Goodlatte’s integrity – he is a partisan hack who will sell out Virginia to curry favor with a small number of farmers who think they can ruin other people’s property rights rather than build fences next to their streams. Hell, the Farm Bill has $100m to pay the sniveling farmers to stop wreaking other people’s property rights regarding the Chesapeake Bay. The proposed 2018 Farm Bill has $300m. How much crony capitalist welfare do these farmers need in order to actually make good on their pseudo-conservative ideals of protecting the property rights of others?

    Goodlatte is less than 6 months from retirement. Time for him to stop assaulting the Commonwealth of Virginia and righteous conservative ideals. Anybody who thinks the incredibly corrupt state government in Virginia will protect property rights instead of their own financial interests is hallucinating. The corruption in our state government is one hell of an advertisement for stronger federal oversight.

    Steve – you want to argue political philosophy and I want a clean Chesapeake Bay. The states squandered 31 years proving the clean-up couldn’t be left to them. It’s time for the big boys in the federal government to be the referees of this brewing fiasco,

  3. Goodlatte and his office NEVER answer anything. Glad to see him go.

  4. LarrytheG Avatar

    re: ” Why should Virginia cede authority to EPA in this arena, if this is a compact between the states?”

    Because it does not work and in large part that is why the EPA got created in the first place.

    Rivers flow from state to state then into the Bay and States are notorious for ignoring the problem even within their own borders… Virginia has hundreds of miles of “impaired” waters that are directly harmful to critters as well as humans – and it took the EPA just to force Virginia to identify those rivers.

    Things like vehicle and industrial/power plant pollution don’t respect state lines and the clean(er) air you breath right now is a direct result of the EPA not allowing States to neglect and ignore the issues.

    I’m surprised that Steve has this attitude…geeze guy… The James River in Richmond is a much cleaner river than it used to be – and you can thank the EPA for that – not Virginia… who was just fine for decades ignoring the problem. The Potomac was even worse -it was more like an open sewer than a healthy river…DC, VA, Md,WVA would not clean it up. The Susquehanna River – NY, Pennsylvania would not agree to clean it up – and it supplies 1/2 of the water in the Bay.

    geeze guy…the record of how states DID NOT clean up pollution is clear. Only after the EPA got created did things change. And here you have dunderheads like Goodlatte still harboring ignorance and irresponsible attitudes about things that really do matter. He’d gut the EPA if he could.

  5. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    There are numerous examples where EPA has ceded enforcement authority to the state DEQ, including various forms of permitting, and in those cases that I am aware of there are various hoops EPA has to jump through to get that authority back. That apparently was the focus here. Goodlatte’s position on this may very well have been wrong, but a simple press release from an advocacy group is insufficient evidence (maybe gospel to you, but not to me), and your and DJ’s ad hominem attacks on Goodlatte make it hard to focus on reason and argument. DJ started in that vein and went downhill fast – and to me ad hominem is a tactic used when the facts ain’t on your side.

    1. djrippert Avatar

      You stick with Oprah Winfrey and I’ll stick with Jerry Springer.

      Bob Goodlatte authored the ill-considered amendment which was opposed by a bi-partisan majority of his colleagues representing Virginia in the House of Representatives. It’s incumbent on him to explain why he needed to do that five months before his 26 year political career comes to an end.

      His amendment re-institutes an approach that failed for over three decades. The states never got their act together. By all accounts the EPA-based approach was working. The Chesapeake Bay watershed includes most or some of six states and DC. A loose confederacy among these entities was tried for 30+ years and failed miserably. Now Goodlatte wants to return to the failed policies of the past.

      One can only assume that Goodlatte was either trying to hand BigAg a parting gift or that he was continuing the Cuccinelli-esque hatred of all things federal that helped hand Terry McAuliffe the keys to the governor’s mansion.

      Republicans are going extinct in Virginia because they don’t honor true conservative ideals. To people like Goodlatte and Cuccinelli private property rights matter until some BigAg companies want to trash waterways that flow hundreds of miles and ruin the private property of others. That’s not conservatism, that’s corporatism.

  6. “It’s incumbent on him to explain why he needed to do that five months before his 26 year political career comes to an end.

    From Goodlatte’s website:

    House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) filed an amicus brief today in the case of American Farm Bureau Federation, et al. v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, et al., which is currently before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The amicus brief, signed by 39 bipartisan Members of Congress, is in support of the American Farm Bureau Federation’s position and urges the Court to acknowledge the congressional intent of the Clean Water Act to reserve the rights of states to implement water quality goals as related to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL). Click here for a PDF copy of the brief.

    Chairman Goodlatte: “EPA’s power grab surrounding the Chesapeake Bay TMDL sets a dangerous precedent by usurping authority delegated to the states in the Clean Water Act simply because the agency disagrees with a state’s decision on implementation. The District Court wrongly left this power grab unchecked. As the EPA continues to ignore the intent of Congress and the framework of the law, it is necessary to weigh-in on the Appeals Court’s proceedings and highlight where the EPA has violated the law and infringed upon states’ rights.

    It’s incumbent on him to explain why he needed to do that five months before his 26 year political career comes to an end.“I have heard first-hand from municipalities, farmers, home builders, and many others in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed who are concerned about the costs of overregulation worsened by the EPA’s measures. States and communities need more flexibility in meeting water quality goals in order to help restore and protect our natural resources. I urge the Court to follow congressional intent and reserve these decisions for the states. The EPA does not have the legal authority to micromanage states’ water quality goals.”

  7. More Goodlatte explanation:

    Floor statement of Congressman Bob Goodlatte on Amendment #57 (as prepared):

    Mr. Chairman, today I rise to urge support for my amendment, which would reaffirm and preserve the rights of the states to write their own water quality plans.

    My amendment simply prohibits the EPA from using its Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load and the so-called “Watershed Implementation Plans” to hijack states’ water quality strategies.

    Over the last several years, the EPA has implemented a “Total Maximum Daily Load” (TMDL) blueprint for the six states in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, which strictly limits the amount of nutrients that can enter the Chesapeake Bay. Through its implementation, the EPA has basically given every state in the watershed an ultimatum – either the state does exactly what the EPA says, or it faces the threat of an EPA takeover of its water quality programs.

    Congress intended that the implementation of the Clean Water Act be a collaborative approach, through which the states and the federal government work together. This process was not meant to be subject to the whims of politicians and bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. Therefore, my amendment instructs the EPA to respect the important role states play in implementing the Clean Water Act.

    I want to make it perfectly clear that my amendment would not stop the EPA from working with the states to restore the Chesapeake Bay, nor would it undermine the cleanup efforts already underway.

    My language only removes the ability of the EPA to take over a state’s plan, or to take retaliatory actions against a state, if it does not meet EPA mandated goals – again, it ensures states’ rights remain intact and not usurped by the EPA.

    It is important to point out the correlation between the EPA’s outrageous “Waters of the United States” rule and the Bay TMDL. At the heart of both issues is the EPA’s desire to control conservation and water quality improvement efforts throughout the country and to punish all those who dare oppose them.

    Mr. Chairman, the Bay is a national treasure, and I want to see it restored. But we know that in order to achieve this goal, the states and the EPA must work together. The EPA cannot be allowed to railroad the states and micromanage the process.

    With this amendment we are simply telling the EPA to respect the important role states play in implementing the Clean Water Act, and preventing another federal power grab by the Administration.

  8. TooManyTaxes Avatar

    An important issue for Virginia is the obligation of the Port of Baltimore to clean up its pollution of the Chesapeake Bay and the related progress of the Port in meeting that obligation. I’ve heard a couple of engineers who work on storm water management issues say the Port of Baltimore is one of the biggest polluters of the Bay.

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