Friday, May 22, 2015

Chesapeake Bay Update: Senators Seek Help for Susquehanna River Basin Farmers

On May 19, 2015, United States Senators Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) and Robert Casey Jr. (D-PA) sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack requesting that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) increase resources to help Susquehanna River Basin farmers comply with Chesapeake Bay conservation efforts.

Citing a 2014 annual report on the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, the Senators noted that overall efforts have been successful in improving the Susquehanna and Chesapeake Bay watersheds.  Nevertheless, Cardin and Casey stated that according to the report, Pennsylvania’s farmers had not adequately reduced their levels of nitrogen pollution.  The Senators further mentioned that because Pennsylvania had not met its nitrogen pollution goals, a group of Maryland legislators had contacted the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), seeking enforcement against the Commonwealth.    

According to Cardin and Casey, USDA has a legal obligation (due to its membership on the Federal Leadership Committee for the Chesapeake Bay) to provide Susquehanna River Basin farmers with the financial and technical support necessary so that Pennsylvania can meet the pollution goals established for the Chesapeake Bay and avoid EPA enforcement action.   
Written by M. Sean High - Staff Attorney
May 22, 2015

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