Opposition to Bay Watershed Bill Misleading

7/13/2013 7:00 AM
By Coalition for an Affordable Bay Solution

MANHEIM, Pa. — On June 21, the Pennsylvania Environment Digest posted the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s letter to all state Senate members with the headline: “EPA Will Not OK Nutrient Reductions From Manure Treatment Tech Under SB 994.”

This statement is not only misleading, but irrelevant to implementation of the Major Watershed Improvement Program set forth in Senate Bill 994.

It’s important to note that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Pennsylvania Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee are supportive of the program proposed in SB 994.

As it relates to SB 994, the EPA has no regulation, guidance or policy to approve or disapprove any manure technologies and their ability to remove nutrients.

And even if it did, the proposed legislation is not exclusive to that form of removal. CBF is clearly trying to create confusion and misunderstanding with underhanded and misleading tactics.

SB 994 is designed to reduce the cost of verified nutrient reduction regardless of source (row crops, livestock and waste water treatment) or practice (technology, BMPs).

The bill’s specific criteria are that nutrient reductions be verified and approved by DEP. That is the commonwealth’s responsibility, through DEP, and not the EPA’s.

CBF claims to support projects that are working to reduce nutrients and that are lower cost than current practices.

If that were truly the case, its opposition to SB 994 makes no logical sense. Instead of pursuing its mission to improve water quality, CBF has released a torrent of reasons to oppose SB 994, designed to confuse what is a very clear issue.

The Coalition for an Affordable Solution recently posted on its website a point-by-point response to CBF’s list of opposition arguments.

The basic premise of SB 994 remains simple: Pennsylvania’s existing level of verified nutrient reduction costs are economically unsustainable and, absent an affordable solution, the state will default on its federally mandated obligations.

The state Senate’s own Legislative Budget and Finance Committee projected that a competitive bidding program for verified nutrients could save as much as 80 percent of projected existing costs.

CABS urges the state Legislature to come together in these last few days before recess and bring SB 994 to a vote.

The bill has broad public support. The state Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee has voted overwhelmingly to move it to a vote.

Failure to do so will result in continued financial burden on Pennsylvania taxpayers and could lead to a default on Chesapeake Bay EPA nutrient mandates in water year 2015.

There is no controversy surrounding SB 994, only the cries from CBF, which has a vested interest to maintain its access to and control over Pennsylvania taxpayer funds to the detriment of state residents, clean water and natural habitat/fresh water recreational activities of Pennsylvania.


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