Choose Clean Water Coalition’s Federal Policy Priorities for 2014
THE CHOOSE CLEAN WATER COALITION IS EXCITED TO ANNOUNCE ITS 2014 POLICY PRIORITIES. THE PRIORITIES LISTED BELOW WILL HAVE THE MOST SIGNIFICANT AND DIRECT IMPACTS ON LOCAL STREAMS THROUGHOUT THE REGION AND PROVIDE THE BEST CHANCE OF RESTORING AND PROTECTING THE CHESAPEAKE BAY.
Due to historic completion of a pollution limit for the Chesapeake Bay and opportunities in the coming year, the Coalition’s primary focus in 2014 will be:
- Ensuring Chesapeake Bay pollution limits continue to lay the groundwork for returning clean water to the region – The Coalition continues to support the Bay states and the District of Columbia in the implementation of strong state clean water blueprints and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in its leadership on the Chesapeake Bay pollution limits, including oversight of the two-year milestones accountability system. We will provide advocacy and support for these measures before Congress, the federal executive branch, the courts, and the states. Additionally, the Coalition will work in targeted locations throughout the region to identify best practices and share information which will support local communities, urban and rural, in their efforts to return clean water to their local creeks and streams. We will also support our members in identifying and strengthening innovative financing solutions at the state and local level that will help to further ensure implementation of the clean water blueprints. The Coalition will work to hold all contributing sectors of pollution accountable and work to strengthen the regulations EPA has available to address water quality issues, including regulations governing agriculture. In addition, the Coalition will work to ensure that any nutrient credit trading programs will meet pollution limits and protect water quality. We will continue to champion accountability, transparency and adaptive management as the 2017 interim and 2025 final pollution reduction deadlines approach.
- Promoting federal policies and investment in Chesapeake Bay watershed restoration and protection efforts and defending against attempts to weaken or eliminate them – The Chesapeake watershed has long been a priority of the White House and Congress, yielding critical federal appropriations for protection and restoration of the region’s waters. The 2008 Farm Bill, the President’s Executive Order on Chesapeake Bay Protection and Restoration in 2009, the issuance of the Chesapeake Bay pollution limits in December 2010 and the state blueprints finalized in 2011 and 2012 have provided increased resources and protections for the waters of the region. Through civic engagement, direct advocacy, and grassroots organizing throughout the region, the Coalition will continue to advocate for these federal dollars and programs, fighting attempts to rollback funding and protections at a time when they are most needed. Work under this priority will include: engaging regulatory and administration actions; working on the annual appropriations process; reauthorizing programs such as the Farm Bill; and protecting and strengthening key federal laws, such as the Clean Water Act.
- Strengthening policies and permits to stop polluted runoff in urbanized areas – Due to demographic and development trends, climate change and other factors, polluted stormwater runoff is the only significant source of nutrient and sediment pollution in the Chesapeake Bay watershed that is growing. Ongoing and upcoming renewals for stormwater permits (MS4), and their implementation throughout the watershed, are critical to further reduce pollution as outlined in state clean water blueprints and to manage the increasingly more severe storm and precipitation events associated with climate change. The Coalition will urge the states and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to follow consistent, rigorous standards in reviewing and approving permits and overseeing their implementation in the Bay watershed. The Coalition will continue to work with individual states on their policies and programs related to stormwater management and with local jurisdictions on establishing and implementing stormwater utilities or authorities and opposing efforts to undermine their establishment. We will reengage with EPA to advocate for a strong national stormwater rule with better protections for receiving waters, and seek opportunities to link smart growth and responsible land use to improve stormwater management within the framework of the Coalition’s Principles Linking Smart Growth and Stormwater.
- Protecting public health, communities and regional water resources from the impacts of natural gas development – Shale gas underlies a significant portion of the Chesapeake Bay region with shale gas formations present in each of the watershed states. Drilling, hydraulic fracturing, and the associated development and infrastructure needed to extract and transport shale gas in Pennsylvania and West Virginia has contaminated water supplies; impacted farm and forestland; increased erosion and stormwater runoff; and increased water withdrawals from streams and rivers. The Chesapeake Bay pollution limits do not account for the pollution loads that occur due to shale gas extraction in the watershed, nor does the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Model include a land use class for well pads and pipeline infrastructure. The Coalition supports comprehensive planning, sound studies, and better federal and state oversight of natural gas extraction and related infrastructure to avoid negative impacts to water quality and quantity as well as to public lands, and to ensure the proper management and disposal of waste. We support timely studies that provide sound scientific data for regulation and rulemaking designed to protect public health, communities and water quality. The Coalition also recognizes the threats to water quality from other extractive industries, including uranium mining, and supports the exercise of federal Clean Water Act authority to prevent potential impacts.