March 10, 2005

Crapo: Common Sense Prevails on Water Quality

Withdrawal of onerous rule reflects state-local, agriculture, forestry needs

Washington, DC â?? Idaho Senator Mike Crapo said that the Bush Administrationâ??s decision to officially withdraw ill-advised water quality regulations demonstrates that common-sense voices were heard on the matter. The proposal dealing with the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) program would have added financial, time and management burdens to already financially-strapped state clean water programs. The TMDL program provides a process for determining a â??pollution budgetâ?? for an impaired stream, river or lake, and allocations among those pollution sources.â??We want to ensure that the public has clean water in our homes, our community, and our environment, but the TMDL proposal actually was a step backward and failed to recognize much of the work being done by state water quality programs,â?? Crapo said. â??We can now get to work finalizing a new regulation, one that takes all factors into consideration, increases flexibility for those programs, and keeps federal intervention to a minimum. The new regulations are under review by various federal agencies, and I hope that this is an issue that will be finalized within the next year.â??The original proposal, made by the Clinton Administration in 2000, overhauled the TMDL program and met with stiff opposition. It was the subject of a dozen Congressional hearings, 20 public forums, and more than 34,000 public comments. Crapo, who chaired the Senate subcommittee with jurisdiction over TMDLs, held four of those hearings during that year. In addition, Crapo authored and Congress approved a provision to stop the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plan to implement certain water quality regulations on states which would divert funds from existing water programs.According to the EPA, the proposed regulations were determined to be "unworkableâ?? through public comment, industry research, and agency review. The Bush administration delayed the regulations after a critical report issued by the National Academy of Sciences' National Research Council in late 2001. During 2001, the EPA held several public listening sessions and held meetings with various interest groups to determine how to proceed on the issue. The new regulations have been re-drafted and are being reviewed by the EPA and other involved federal agencies.# # #