(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Congressman Jamie Raskin joined Chesapeake Bay delegation members in urging Bay Watershed Governors Larry Hogan (R-Md.), Tom Wolf (D-Penn.), John Carney (D-Del.), Ralph Northam (D-Va.), and Jim Justice (R-W-Va.), and Mayor Muriel Bowser (D-D.C.) to maintain rigorous environmental standards crucial to the health of the Bay, despite the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision to relax enforcement of these standards. In their letter, the Members also ask the states and the District of Columbia to provide an update on their current actions to ensure proper enforcement.
“As you know, Americans are currently facing the worst public health crisis in a century and we appreciate the work that you and your states are doing on the front lines to address it. Yet, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, the EPA has taken several actions that will increase pollution and cause significant adverse impacts to public health and our environment,” the members begin.
They continue, “Specifically, the relaxation of the Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Program, outlined in the EPA memorandum released on March 26, 2020, could have significant negative impacts on the health of the Chesapeake Bay and its 64,000 square mile watershed, and those Americans who depend on it for recreation, fishing, and clean water. As the Executives of the states containing the Chesapeake Bay watershed, each of you is entrusted with the responsibility of preserving and restoring the health of the nation’s largest estuary and its thousands of rivers and streams.”
The lawmakers denounce EPA’s recent announcement to relax environmental enforcement, writing, “The vitality of the Chesapeake Bay watershed is contingent upon compliance with statutory pollution limitations. EPA’s decision to refrain from enforcement action against entities’ failure to comply with their obligations under federal law, federal permits, EPA administrative orders and EPA-related judicial consent decrees abdicates its duty to ‘protect human health and the environment’.”
The members press the states and D.C. to take action – and provide an update on their enforcement plans – concluding, “We urge you all to reject the EPA’s memorandum and provide an update on your plans to ensure critical and essential environmental enforcement within your authorities during this time. Maintaining transparency and the ability for the public to comment on any actions is necessary at all times, especially now, and we urge all state and local governments to utilize technology to meet these obligations. As many of you are partnering to respond to the COVID-19 on a regional basis, we must all work together to meet our mutual goal of clean water in the Chesapeake Bay watershed by 2025.”
The letter was signed by Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), and Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Representatives Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), Anthony G. Brown (D-Md.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Bobby Scott (D-Va.), Donald McEachin (D-Va.), Gerald Connolly (D-Va.), Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.), Donald Beyer (D-Va.), and Elaine Luria (D-Va.).
The full text of the letter is available here.