09/27/2017 - Regulatory Rollback

Chesapeake Bay and Nonpoint Source Programs / TMDLs

by Hana Vizcarra, Robin Just

The Environmental & Energy Law Program is tracking the environmental regulatory rollbacks of the Trump administration. Click here for the list of rules we are following. If you’re a reporter and would like to speak with an expert on this rule, please email us.

Why it Matters

The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the US. Pollution from agriculture and urban runoff has impaired Chesapeake water quality, damaging its fisheries and recreational and natural value. Through collaborative agreements between federal and state governments and support of private restoration efforts, the Chesapeake Bay Program has helped the bay improve over the last three decades. In 2010, EPA issued a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for the bay, establishing enforceable limits of pollutants that can enter the bay.

Current Status

July 27, 2018 EPA released its Midpoint Assessment of the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load. While acknowledging “considerable progress in reducing pollution to local waters and the Bay” and that the jurisdictions have exceeded their goals for phosphorus and sediment, the report noted that nitrogen goals have not been met.

Aug. 7, 2018 The Chesapeake Executive Council holds its annual meeting and signs a directive in support of increasing technical assistance to farmers for conservation efforts.

March 11, 2019 Trump administration proposes 90% cuts to funding in draft budget. The President’s proposed budget would cut EPA funding for the Chesapeake Bay Program. Maryland Gov. Hogan has asked Congress to increase funding instead.

April 5, 2019 Virginia releases its draft state Watershed Implementation Plan for the Chesapeake Bay TMDL. The “Virginia Clean Water Blueprint” is a plan to meet the 2025 Chesapeake Bay restoration goals. The plan is open for public comment through June 7th.

History

Dec. 9, 1983 EPA, Virginia, Maryland, D.C., Pennsylvania, and the Chesapeake Bay Commission sign the first Chesapeake Bay Agreement, forming the Chesapeake Bay Program. This is followed y additional agreements in 1987 and 2000 which set pollution goals and guided restoration efforts.

May 12, 2009 Pres. Obama signed Executive Order 13508 calling for a renewed federal government effort to restore the bay.

Dec. 29, 2010 EPA establishes the Chesapeake Bay TMDL which sets limits on nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment pollution to help the bay meet water quality standards.

Trump Era

March 16, 2017 President Trump’s proposed 2018 EPA Budget eliminated funding for the Bay cleanup activities needed to meet the TMDL.

May 5, 2017 The President signs a budget to fund the federal government through Sep. 30, 2017, with the Chesapeake funding restored.

Sep. 8, 2017 The President signs a deal to extend federal funding through Dec. 8, 2017. The FY18 funding battle remains in play.

Feb. 12, 2018 The Trump administration’s fiscal year 2019 budget request proposes to dramatically reduce the Chesapeake Bay cleanup and pollution control funds in order to shift the burden of these activities to states and municipalities. The remaining funds will be about 10% of what they were the previous year.

March 23, 2018 Congress approves and the president signs a 2018 spending plan that includes maintaining full funding for these programs, which Trump had sought to eliminate.

June 20, 2018 EPA sends letters to Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia (the seven states covered by the TMDL) outlining its expectations for each jurisdiction’s Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation has expressed its support for the expectations outlined by EPA. The expectations document highlights Pennsylvania’s difficulty in meeting its milestones to date and incorporates the impacts of climate change, which is expected to cause an increase in the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus entering the bay, into the planning process.

July 27, 2018 EPA releases its Midpoint Assessment of the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load. While acknowledging “considerable progress in reducing pollution to local waters and the Bay” and that the jurisdictions have exceeded their goals for phosphorus and sediment, the report noted that nitrogen goals have not been met.

Aug. 7, 2018 The Chesapeake Executive Council holds its annual meeting and signs a directive in support of increasing technical assistance to farmers for conservation efforts.

March 11, 2019 Trump administration proposes 90% cuts to funding in draft budget. The President’s proposed budget would cut EPA funding for the Chesapeake Bay Program. Maryland Gov. Hogan has asked Congress to increase funding instead.

April 5, 2019 Virginia releases its draft state Watershed Implementation Plan for the Chesapeake Bay TMDL. The “Virginia Clean Water Blueprint” is a plan to meet the 2025 Chesapeake Bay restoration goals. The plan is open for public comment through June 7th.