Farm Bureau: Chesapeake Bay bill good for farms, economy

The Chesapeake Bay Program Reauthorization and Improvement Act (H.R. 4153) would greatly improve the Chesapeake Bay and contribute to the health of local farms, ranches and rural economies -- all while staying true to the original intent of the Clean Water Act, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), reauthorizes the bay program, and it reaffirms that states have sole authority to implement rules related to nutrient loads that might make their way into the bay.

"Protecting the bay is an important goal, but it is also important to have regulatory provisions in place that preserve the role of states in determining their own land-use and water-quality regulations," said AFBF President Bob Stallman. "This bill would do that through a program that is led by the states and supported by the Agriculture Department. And, this legislation provides states the tools they need to balance economic growth and job creation with the desire for a clean and healthy Chesapeake Bay."

According to AFBF, states' rights under the Clean Water Act have come under assault by the Environmental Protection Agency, which has threatened to expand federal control over the Chesapeake Bay region, contrary to the agency's authority under the Clean Water Act.

AFBF said that under the EPA program, the agency "would unlawfully micromanage state actions and the activities of farmers, homeowners and businesses within the six-state watershed, imposing specific pollutant allocations on activities such as farming and homebuilding, sometimes down to the level of individual farms."

"The manner in which the EPA has approached this issue clearly demonstrates that the resulting impact could be enormous for state and local economies," Stallman said. "Such decisions, if necessary, should be made by our elected officials in Congress. But overall, this bill would support the states in achieving clean water for the bay, without trampling their authority in the process."


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