Media reaction to Goodlatte’s 2018 Chesapeake Bay Amendment

Background: Republican Rep Bob Goodlatte (Va – 6th) has proposed an amendment to an appropriations package which would forbid the EPA from using federal funds to take action against bay states that fail to meet pollution-reduction targets set by the EPA and agreed-to by the states.  The amendment is to the 2019 Interior, Environment, Financial Services and General Appropriations Act.  The amended bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives 213 to 202.  The same bill (without the Goodlatte Amendment) was passed by the US Senate 92 to 6.

Goodlatte’s rationale. Rep Goodlatte previously explained his rationale for restricting the EPA’s authority over the Chesapeake Bay cleanup on his website.  You can view that explanation here and here. (Hat Tip: Jim Bacon). However, it should be noted that the first link was from 2014 and the second from 2016. One would think that Goodlatte’s most recent attempts to curtail the EPA’s enforcement of the TDML Blueprint would require an updated explanation of intent … especially in light of the continued success of the Bay cleanup effort since EPA enforcement began.

Media reaction to the 2018 amendment. In order to get the essence of the media reaction to Bob Goodlatte’s proposed amendment I performed an internet search with the argument “Goodlatte & Chesapeake Bay Cleanup.”  There were 42,800 results. Here are the top 10 written in 2018 pertaining to Goodlatte’s latest attempt to restrict the EPA from enforcing the TDML Blueprint:

  1. Measure to weaken EPA enforcement of bay cleanup is up for House vote – again (Daily Press)
  2.  US House again votes to restrict federal enforcement of Chesapeake Bay Cleanup (Baltimore Sun)
  3. Editorial: Goodlatte once again targets the bay cleanup (Fredricksburg.Com)
  4. Senators vow to fight stripping funds to enforce Chesapeake Bay cleanup (LA Times)
  5. Environmentalists claim measure will set back Chesapeake Bay (13 News Now)
  6. Virginia GOP Congressman Again Tries to Gut Accountability For Chesapeake Bay Cleanup (PA Environment Digest Blog)
  7. Goodbye and Good Riddance to Goodlatte (Bacon’s Rebellion) (LOL)
  8. Harris backs Bay cleanup (The Star Democrat)
  9. Bay Journal: Hogan urges US Senate to reject curb on EPA role in Bay cleanup (Maryland.gov)
  10. House Republicans Advance Bill that Would Derail Chesapeake Cleanup (NPR)

Methodology reminder. Bob Goodlatte has made many failed attempts over the years to prevent the EPA from regulating the Chesapeake Bay’s TDML Blueprint. Interspersed with articles relating to his most recent attempt were articles referencing his prior attempts. Those prior articles were omitted from this list.

Conclusion. Goodlatte seems to have very little support for his latest attempt to restrict the EPA’s authority over the Chesapeake Bay. Beyond the dearth of media articles in support of Goodlatte, seven of Virginia’s eleven U.S. House of Representative members voted against Goodlatte’s amendment. Both Virginia U.S. Senators committed to blocking the amendment in the Senate. Even Maryland’s Republican governor came out publicly against the Goodlatte amendment. I also quickly scanned the next 10 articles (numbers 11 – 20) on the sorted list of responses to my internet search. All were opposed to Goodlatte’s latest attempt to restrict EPA enforcement of the TDML Blueprint.

— Don Rippert

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12 responses to “Media reaction to Goodlatte’s 2018 Chesapeake Bay Amendment

  1. The TMDLs – are openly hated by the AG community and loathed quietly by municipalities because of fears that it will affect growth – and make wastewater treatment more expensive. TMDL stands for Total Maximum Daily Limits and it basically puts a cap on cap on discharges because the Chesapeake Bay itself has a limit as to how much pollution it can except – without it being further harmed.

    So exact limits will be set for discharge plants and other places that show higher levels of nitrogen. These limits will directly impact these plants and farms.

    It’s the nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment runoff that damages the bays ecosystem and growing cities basically have more and more poop and urban storm water runoff and farms that grow large numbers of cattle and poultry are also affected.

    TMDLs are controversial and opposed in a lot of places across the country and the GOP, in general has been opposed to implementing it – but of late
    some have been willing to have it imposed on the Chesapeake Bay if not their own districts, but not Goodlatte whose district is the Shenandoah Valley -big AG including poultry.

    I’d not be surprised that whoever follows him and represents the 6th district are going to hear from the same folks who oppose TMDL.

  2. It’s a little hard to grasp because it’s not concrete.
    We do not know what target Va. committed to and what actions we would have to take and how we are doing, or if the targtes we were given are fair. Also seems unprecedented – what would be example of prior EPA executive action quite like it? I guess we have that Repub Comstock supports the EPA on this matter, which says something but could just say Dems have her feet to fire here in NOVA. Worse cases scenario EPA steps in and make us clean up Virginia. Oh the horror!

    • The TDML Blueprint is a complicated process because the Chesapeake Bay is a complex and large ecosystem which has been harmed by multiple forms of pollution from multiple sources. Explaining it properly would take a multi-section article (like Reed’s efforts around Charlottesville). Boiling it down (a lot) … The EPA basically forced all but one of the states to meet the majority of the TDML goals. Pennsylvania has been the outlier. No state has met 100% of 100% of the goals but the agreement doesn’t call for that. The agreement essentially calls for meeting a majority of a majority of the goals.

      My frustration is that lame duck Goodlatte has launched another blitzkrieg attack on the EPA’s enforcement capability that is opposed by a majority of Virginia House represents, both Virginia US Senators and, from all media accounts, most Virginians. He has launched his attack with no specific commentary about why this latest (2018) effort makes sense.

  3. I’m a supporter of TMDLs… it’s nasty medicine for a sick bay… there are no easy answers… too much human and animal (cattle/poultry) poop leads to higher and higher nitrogen and phosphorous in a limited ecosystem with a fixed limit as to what it can assimilate before it’s damaged.

    So… you got to come up with basically hard limits for growing places where they have to go to more and more expensive wastewater treatment – just to maintain their current levels…

    Cattle and poultry operations will also be affected.

    But if we want a healthy Bay – this is what you have to do…and not everyone is on board… it’s a classic tragedy of the commons… Each activity in and of itself is not killing the bay -but add them all up and then have more growth of people and animals to feed people – and we will inflict more and more damage the Bay.

    Some folks may not remember.. the Potomac used to be something akin to an open sewer… and it took decades for that and other pollution to ultimately damage the bay – and it’s taken decades to bring it back and now we’re at a crossroads…. do we lose what we gained and go back to a seriously damaged bay or do we bit the bullet and sustain our progress?

    • Just generically, I would say some EPA plans like the Clean Power Plan and the 54 CAFE MPG Auto by 2025 targets were extremely strict targets invented by the Dems. So as much as I like a clean Bay I need to somehow get calibrated on how stringent the targets are: reasonable or impossible but insisted upon anyways. An impossible example was the renewable fuels standard which mandated more than 10% ethanol in gaso which exceeds the blend wall allowable by Auto manufacturers.

      • Remember that the Bay states (including Republican dominated Virginia) agreed to the TDML blueprint. Also remember that (other than Pennsylvania) the Bay states were meeting the agreed-to targets. If left to the states themselves, Virginia will suffer from Pennsylvania’s intransigence.

  4. I don’t equate the EPA to “dems”. It was started under Nixon and it has for all that time been under attack by the GOP/Partisans and business interests who have tried over the years to essentially gut it.

    Every single rule the EPA does goes through an extensive public comment period and their science behind the rule is usually rock solid.

    Below are the list of laws and regs that have been created over it’s existence that many folks don’t know at all or take for granted.

    Every one of these went through a cost-benefit analysis… legal challenges and political challenges – and they remain in place and supported by the vast majority of people – and their elected – with the exception of some folks on the right who would get rid of the EPA altogether – and that number has grown -no question but they still constitute a small minority of people.

    Air
    1955: Air Pollution Control Act PL 84-159
    1963: Clean Air Act PL 88-206
    1965: Motor Vehicle Air Pollution Control Act PL 89-272
    1966: Clean Air Act Amendments PL 89-675
    1967: Air Quality Act PL 90-148
    1970: Clean Air Act Extension PL 91-604
    1977: Clean Air Act Amendments PL 95-95
    1990: Clean Air Act Amendments PL 101-549
    Water
    1948: Water Pollution Control Act PL 80-845
    1965: Water Quality Act PL 89-234
    1966: Clean Waters Restoration Act PL 89-753
    1970: Water Quality Improvement Act PL 91-224
    1972: Federal Water Pollution Control Amendments of 1972 PL 92-500
    1974: Safe Drinking Water Act PL 93-523
    1977: Clean Water Act PL 95-217
    1987: Water Quality Act PL 100-4
    1996: Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments of 1996
    Land
    1964: Wilderness Act PL 88-577
    1968: Wild and Scenic Rivers Act PL 90-542
    1970: Wilderness Act PL 91-504
    1977: Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act PL 95-87
    1978: Wilderness Act PL 98-625
    1980: Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act PL 96-487
    1994: California Desert Protection Act PL 103-433
    2010: California Desert Protection Act
    Endangered species
    1946: Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act PL 79-732
    1966: Endangered Species Preservation Act PL 89-669
    1969: Endangered Species Conservation Act PL 91-135
    1972: Marine Mammal Protection Act PL 92-522
    1973: Endangered Species Act PL 93-205
    1979: Endangered Species Preservation Act PL 95 335
    Hazardous waste
    1965: Solid Waste Disposal Act PL 89-272
    1970: Resource Recovery Act PL 91-512
    1976: Resource Conservation and Recovery Act PL 94-580
    1980: Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (“Superfund”) PL 96-510
    1984: Hazardous and Solid Wastes Amendments Act PL 98-616
    1986: Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act PL 99-499
    2002: Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act (“Brownfields Law”) PL 107-118
    Other
    1947: Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act PL 80-104
    1969: National Environmental Policy Act PL 91-190
    1972: Federal Environmental Pesticide Control Act PL 92-516
    1976: Toxic Substances Control Act PL 94-469
    1982: Nuclear Waste Policy Act PL 97-425
    1996: Food Quality Protection Act PL 104-170

    ‘Americans Want Government to Do More on Environment”

    62% say government doing too little on the environment, highest since 2006
    Majority prioritize the environment even if it limits economic growth
    Americans show strong support for curbing emissions and alternative energy

    Support for the EPA has stayed high from the time it was created.

    • Larry it is not always EPA. Sometimes the Congress or Pres. sets the impossible targets. But it is usually Dems who feel there is no excuse to not meet impossible targets, and refuse to budge. Eg; 54 Cafe MPG.

  5. EVEN most Republicans SUPPORT EPA rules:

  6. I am no expert, but for years I have heard farm representatives complain that the burden of compliance with TMDL’s has fallen most heavily on them, when the nutrients that end up in rivers can include other sources – including our own front yards fouled by the neighborhood dogs or kept green by too much fertilizer. In his initial post DJ taunted Rep. Brat with evidence of pollution in the James which looked very un-agricultural to me (unless there is a farm use for condoms.) Most of the upgrades to sewage treatment plants have been accomplished at this point, I think, so EPA is having to look elsewhere when it wants to further reduce the targets.

    I know a bit more about the ozone situation, and in that case I do think EPA overreached, having achieved significant improvement and following up with proposed new targets where the cost-benefit result was less reasonable. I think those proposals went away. The TMDL for the bay may not be parallel.

    It seems Goodlatte’s amendment has continuously failed, and so far the 2018 version is not yet law, but if it fails because the EPA comes to the Hill to listen to the concerns and promises to be reasonable, then it might be doing some good.

    • Every recent scientific survey I have read puts agricultural runoff as the Chesapeake Bay’s #1 pollution. However, urban and suburban pollution is a close second. Agricultural interests who believe they are bearing a large part of the burden are right. They are a large part of the problem. States and the federal government have set aside funds to help farmers pay for the necessary measures required to come into compliance. The vast giveaway to BigAg known as the Farm Bill last had allocated $100m for this. The new version (being debated now) allocated $300m.

      In fairness to the BigAg lobbyists, a number of non-ag polluters are also failing to meet the goals – the Port of Baltimore and the City of Alexandria among them.

      My frustration with so-called conservatives is that they want to protect property rights only when threatened by the government. They are front and center to pass legislation stopping Loudoun County from impinging on Martha Boneta’s presumed right to run a farm store but oppose legislation that prevents BigAg from polluting other people’s property.

  7. Here is a thought fot Goodlatte or those against his amendment … from the Union of Concerned Scientists …
    “Crops and biomass wastes can be converted to energy on the farm or sold to energy companies that produce fuel for cars and tractors and heat and power for homes and businesses. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, tripling U.S. use of biomass energy could provide as much as $20 billion in new income for farmers and rural communities and reduce global warming emissions by the same amount as taking 70 million cars off the road. New incentives are available from the federal government and a number of states to help capture these benefits.”
    I read that several million is available …

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