Tuesday, March 25, 2014

See what's happening in the Southeast!

PEC Southeast Regional Representative’s Report
Nancy Fayer-PEC SE Rep
March 9, 2014

 In support of pollution reduction in the Chesapeake Bay and in local streams and rivers.

(1) Testimony presented before the House Environmental Matters committee (ENV) of Maryland House of Delegates on Wednesday, February 26, 2014
 I testified, as a member of First Presbyterian Church of Howard County and on behalf of the Earth Forum of Howard County, to request an unfavorable report from the House Environmental Matters Committee on House Bill 50-97-895, which would repeal the Stormwater Management - Watershed Protection and Restoration Program enacted in 2012.  My position was that that many people in faith communities support the Stormwater management legislation and that the 2012 law should be kept in place without modification.  Approximately 25 Delegates and 150 people attended this hearing.

Background: Stormwater is a substantial source of nutrient and sediment pollution, and other toxic pollutants including pesticides, fouling local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay. In Maryland, stormwater accounts for roughly 19% of the nitrogen pollution reaching the Bay each year. As part of the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), Maryland has targeted stormwater nitrogen load reductions of roughly 18%, requiring local retrofits as the primary means of achieving such reductions. Unfortunately, stormwater retrofits – installing control measures where previously none existed, or upgrading inadequate control measures – are some of the most costly pollution reductions to be accomplished in Maryland’s Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP). 

Under current law, the 10 largest local jurisdictions – those with federally-mandated stormwater management programs – were required to develop stormwater utilities and assess fees within their jurisdictions in order to finance stormwater management retrofits, stream restorations, and related stormwater projects. The guiding principle behind such programs is that all properties that contribute stormwater to local waterways should share the burden of correcting the problems caused by the runoff. 

(2) Visit to members of Congress on Capitol Hill – Wednesday, March 5
On March 5, I participated in an ADVOCACY day on Capitol Hill, organized the Choose Clean Water Coalition of 200+ clean water related groups. During this day, I was able to visit the offices and speak with staff members in the offices of Congress Members John Sarbanes (D-MD), Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Donna Edwards (D-MD), Steny Hoyer (D-MD). and Sen. Barbara Mikulski

The purpose of these visits to Capitol Hill were to:
1) Ask the members of Congress to support full funding for the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program AND for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund.
The President’s 2015 budget, recently released, requested $73.1 million for the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program.
This program provides critical support to the states to implement clean water programs and last year Congress directed EPA to provide at least $10 million for the Chesapeake Stewardship Grants with $54 million for the Small Watersheds Grants, currently administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
In FY 2014 Congress provided $1.5 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, which provides low interest loans to local governments for clean water infrastructure project.  This is critical for the 1,779 local governments in the Bay watershed.

2) Ask members of Congress to cosponsor and support the FRAC Act, the FRESHER Act, and the CLEANER Act to protect our local water resources from the impacts of natural gas development. These bills remove loopholes that allow the oil and gas industry to be the only one in the United States not covered by these provisions meant to protect public health.

FRAC Act (H.R, 1921, S 1135): The Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemical Act protects drinking water sources by closing a 200S Safe Drinking Water Act loophole exempting drilling technology involving underground injection.
- EPA would set standards that would allow for states to integrate the methodology into their own permitting processes.
- Would also require drilling companies to disclose chemicals used to break and keep open the rocks to extract gas.  Proprietary formulas would not be disclosed unless in a public health emergency.

FRESHER Act (H.R. 1175): The Focused Reduction of Effluence and Stormwater runoff through Hydrofracking Environmental Regulation Act would close a loophole in the Clean Water Act that exempts oil and gas construction and drilling facilities form obtaining stormwater runoff permits. This Act requires the Secretary of the Interior to submit a report on the impacts of stormwater runoff on surface and groundwater resources from oil and gas operations.

The CLEANER Act (H.R. 2825): The Closing Loopholes and Ending Arbitrary and Needless Evasion of Regulations Act would eliminate a loophole exempting oil and gas waste from hazardous waste disposal safety standards in the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). This would reduce impacts to surface and groundwater as well as drinking water based on the handling and disposal of waste.

3) Ask members of Congress to consider cosponsoring and supporting the innovative Stormwater Infrastructure Act of 20`13 (H.R. 3449/S 1677). This bill would:
- Establish up to five regional Centers of Excellence (at land grant universities) to conduct research, provide training and offer technical assistance on innovative approaches to managing polluted runoff.
- Provide funding for community-based projects to manage polluted runoff
- Encourage innovative stormwater infrastructure through policies at EPA


Distributing Brochures:
On February 8, 2014, I took PEC brochures to pass out at the meeting of 35 people from various parts of the Baltimore Presbytery, who were attending the Presbyterians in Annapolis Legislative Day.
Contacting Presbyteries:
I have begun conversations with a contact in the National Capitol Region Presbytery and with a contact in Philadelphia about doing some PEC work together in those areas. 


Earth Forum of Howard County, Sunday, March 16, 2014, 2 PM, presents: “Why Garden: Successful and Sustainable Gardening in a Changing Climate" with Dr. Sara Via, Dept. of Biology and Dept. of Entomology, University of Maryland, and “Insights on Environmental Legislation” with Maryland Senator Brian Frosh. The Earth Forum is held at the First Presbyterian Church of Howard County, Columbia, Md.

Participants may welcome the arrival of spring at the Earth Forum, while perfecting plan for their gardens and supporting eco-systems. They will learn practical techniques for successful gardening in our new and challenging environment as Dr. Via shows how gardeners can be an important part of the climate change solution while creating peaceful and restorative landscapes and growing healthy food.  Also featured on the program is Sen. Frosh, who will giber an up-to-the minute analysis of Earth supporting-legislation being considered during the current legislation session.
Completing the program is a Spring Faire of fifteen gardening learning stations illustrating gardens and gardening techniques to expand your gardening experience and answer your Tasty refreshments will complement the program.  Contact us at earthforum@firstpreshc.org or call 410-730-3545.

No comments:

Post a Comment