Letters to the Editor: Lawmakers ask to restore Clean Water Act; Neck District VFC plans event

Posted 7/3/21

The following open letter, dated July 1, to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan and Chief of Engineers and Commanding General U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Lt. Gen. Scott …

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Letters to the Editor: Lawmakers ask to restore Clean Water Act; Neck District VFC plans event

Posted

The following open letter, dated July 1, to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan and Chief of Engineers and Commanding General U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Lt. Gen. Scott A. Spellmon, was released by U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.)

Dear Administrator Regan and General Spellmon:
We write to you, as representatives of Chesapeake Bay Watershed, to ask that you rescind the harmful Navigable Waters Protection Rule (“the Rule”) and replace it with a rule that restores strong Clean Water Act protections to waterways and wetlands across the country. We were pleased to see the recent Executive Order directing review of the Rule, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Army’s subsequent request that the Rule be remanded to the agencies.

The remand is a step in the right direction for a Rule which has hindered efforts to restore the Chesapeake Bay watershed and is jeopardizing our ability to meet the federal-state partnership’s 2025 restoration goal. We are concerned, however, that the Rule remains in place in the interim.
The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States, with a watershed spanning more than 64,000 square miles across six states — New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia — and the District of Columbia. The Chesapeake Bay is an economic engine for the region, providing recreational opportunities, critical habitat for fish and wildlife, and a much-needed buffer against flooding throughout the watershed. These essential ecological services are dependent on a healthy Bay and healthy tributaries.

As you know, pollution and our changing climate threaten the balance of the unique and diverse ecosystems of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. 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 Rule severely constricts the scope of Clean Water Act jurisdiction, the bedrock of federal water policy, removing protections from streams and wetlands – such as Delmarva bays and pocosins in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, which had for decades been considered to be jurisdictional “waters of the United States,” or WOTUS.

Implementation of the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) relies on the classification of wetlands and streams as WOTUS under the Clean Water Act to set limits on the discharge of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment into the Bay. Changes to the definition of WOTUS also impact several statutes used by states and tribal entities to protect critical water resources.

Removing federal Clean Water Act Section 402 and Section 404 permits and TMDL requirements from these waterways under the Rule leaves the Chesapeake Bay subject to the uneven regulatory framework — increasing the burden on states with stronger state water protections and threatening the progress in Bay restoration made as a result of cooperative federal and multi-state partnership in recent decades.

Delaware, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia, for instance, rely entirely on the federal law to protect their waters, making it difficult for them to meet their obligations under the Chesapeake Bay Agreement without strong federal policy. Even for states that do not rely exclusively on the federal definition of WOTUS to protect their waterways, the abdication of federal responsibility creates an undue burden for states, many of which do not have the staff capacity for monitoring and enforcement. The Rule makes it extremely difficult to clean up and protect multistate resources like the Chesapeake Bay.
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. 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.

We urge you to rescind the Navigable Waters Protection Rule as soon as possible and to replace it with a scientifically informed rule based on sound science, in order to carry out the purpose of the Clean Water Act. We appreciate your commitment to stakeholder engagement and evidence-based policy and stand ready to work with you to restore the Chesapeake Bay.
Senators Chris Van Hollen, Benjamin L. Cardin, Thomas R. Carper and Kirsten Gillibrand
Members of Congress Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, John P. Sarbanes, Steny H. Hoyer, Eleanor Holmes Norton, C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, Gerald E. Connolly, Kweisi Mfume, Lisa Blunt Rochester, Anthony G. Brown, A. Donald McEachin, Jamie Raskin, David J. Trone, Jennifer Wexton and Donald S. Beyer Jr.

The following is an open letter from the president of Neck District VFC:

The final arrangements have been made for the Evening in the Neck to be held Saturday July 10. The tent has been ordered, the music set up and the food decided. This is a great opportunity for the new residents of the Neck District to meet the folks of the Neck District as well as old friends to get together for an enjoyable evening out.

Good Times Entertainment will be providing live music out back under the large tent beginning about 4 p.m. They are outstanding and do songs back into the 60s.
We will have plenty of free food and non-alcoholic drinks also beginning about 4 p.m. Burgers, dogs, chicken, roast beef, meatballs, mac and cheese, baked beans, corn on the cob and watermelon will be served in the hall. There will be a beer truck outside with cups and pitchers for a nominal fee.

Negotiations with the North Pole have been successful. A special guest will be appearing about 5 p.m. to see the kids and those young at heart who still believe.
We have games to be played and hopefully even a cornhole tournament.
Come out and help us celebrate the arrival of our brand-new ambulance. This is the first brand-new piece of equipment for the NDVFC in more than 10 years and is necessary due to the upcoming changes in hospital service availability in Cambridge.
This new ambulance will be better suited for the more frequent trips to either Easton Hospital or PRMC (Peninsula Regional Medical Center) in Salisbury. It will be outside, opened up and on display for all to see. Our ambulance officers and EMTs are very proud of the new unit.
Tables and chairs (you know, the hard metal ones) will be set up under the tent. Please feel free to bring your own chairs for your comfort.

Speaking of bringing something, we would love to have some desserts to be shared. If you can bring a dessert, please leave it with the kitchen staff in the hall to be portioned.
Our recently developed Station 31 logo includes the words “Neighbors helping neighbors”. Our First Responders, administrative officers and volunteers of the Neck District Volunteer Fire Company are dedicated to helping our community.

Please come out and say hello to them, and get to know them if you don’t already. They all put in many hours (thousands combined each year) of their time, often getting out of bed or getting up from dinner to “answer the call”.
We look forward to seeing you for a fun “Evening in the Neck”!
Mike McKinley
President, NDVFC