July 01, 2021

Van Hollen, Cardin, Sarbanes, Scott Urge EPA to Restore Critical Chesapeake Bay Protections Gutted by Trump

Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin (both D-MD) and Representatives Bobby Scott (VA-03) and John Sarbanes (MD-03) led a bicameral letter to Michael Regan, the Administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and to Lieutenant General Scott A. Spellmon, the Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, urging them to rescind the harmful Navigable Waters Protection Rule implemented by the Trump Administration, and replace it with a rule that restores strong Clean Water Act protections to the Chesapeake Bay and other waterways and wetlands across the country.

“As you know, pollution and our changing climate threaten the balance of the unique and diverse ecosystems of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries,” the letter reads. “Strong, science-based federal policy is needed to address these threats and to protect and restore this national treasure. The Rule, promulgated by the last Administration, is an abdication of federal responsibility.”

The Chesapeake Bay’s ongoing restoration requires the continued partnership of federal, state, and local governments. The cooperation of these partners is especially important as the 2025 goal for pollution reduction approaches.

“Millions of our constituents depend on clean water for drinking, fishing, swimming, and other recreation, and want a healthy Bay for their families and communities to enjoy,” the letter continues. “Likewise, tourism and fisheries businesses in our states depend on a clean, thriving Chesapeake Bay. The communities we represent – including state and local governments, farmers, waterpeople, and advocates – have invested far too much time, expense, and energy on Bay cleanup to see that progress undermined. Every day that the Rule remains in place further jeopardizes the Bay’s restoration.”

The letter was also signed by the following Members of Congress: Representatives Steny Hoyer (MD-05), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-AL), Dutch Ruppersberger (MD-02), Gerry Connolly (VA-11), Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE-AL), Anthony Brown (MD-04), Donald McEachin (VA-04), Kweisi Mfume (MD-07), Jamie Raskin (MD-08), David Trone (MD-06), Jennifer Wexton (VA-10) and Don Beyer (VA-08); Senators Tom Carper (D-DE) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).

Full text of the letter can be found HERE.

Denise Stranko, the Federal Executive Director, Chesapeake Bay Foundation said, “Strong wetlands protections are critical to restoring the Chesapeake Bay, bolstering its resilience to climate change, and supporting our region’s health and economic vitality. Yet the previous administration threw out safeguards for hundreds of thousands of acres of the region’s seasonal streams and wetlands, including Delmarva Bays and pocosins unique to the Delmarva Peninsula. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation thanks Bay champions in Congress for their commitment to ensuring these protections are restored.”

Kelly Moser, Senior Attorney and Leader, Southern Environmental Law Center’s Clean Water Defense Initiative said, “We need strong federal clean water protections for the health of our families, communities, and the places we love the most, like the Chesapeake Bay. Our communities and businesses rely on clean water, and we need the agencies to urgently repeal the unlawful Navigable Waters Protection Rule.”

Mariah Davis, Acting Director, Choose Clean Water Coalition said, “With pollution and climate change threatening clean water, we need to fulfill the promise of the Clean Water Act by protecting the millions of miles of streams, millions of acres of wetlands, and countless other water bodies that are currently unprotected under the Dirty Water Rule. We urge the EPA to not only carry forward with their effort to repeal the Dirty Water Rule, but to also replace it with a strong, enduring definition that will protect all waterways. Our responsibility to leave a legacy of clean water to future generations is at stake.”

Pat Calvert, Senior Policy & Campaigns Manager, Virginia Conservation Network said, “For years, Bay states have expended tremendous effort and resources toward reducing pollution inputs to Chesapeake rivers and streams utilizing their authority to manage pollutants. Our ability to restore this national treasure will only be successful if purview over public waters — waters of the United States — are restored by the EPA.”

Jamie Brunkow, James Riverkeeper and Senior Advocacy Manager, James River Association said, "The Clean Water Act has helped us change the James River from one of the most polluted waterways in the country to one worthy of international recognition for restoration. But the so-called Navigable Waters Protection Rule undermines the Clean Water Act and the water quality protections that it provides, jeopardizing decades of work across the James River watershed and throughout the Chesapeake Bay. We commend Congressman Scott and members of the Chesapeake Bay Congressional Delegation for their work to protect our treasured waterways by restoring the Clean Water Act, and we urge EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to take heed."