Goodlatte amendment would weaken Chesapeake protections

Congressman Goodlatte is continuing his war against federal regulations protecting and improving the environment.

In a move that environmentalists charged would undermine the Chesapeake Bay cleanup effort, the U.S. House of Representatives has voted to bar the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from taking action against any state in the Bay watershed that fails to meet pollution reduction goals set by the EPA six years ago.

The measure, an amendment to an EPA and Interior Department spending bill put forward by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-VA, passed Thursday night by a largely party line vote of 214 to 197.

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In a statement issued after the House vote, Goodlatte said his amendment was needed to prevent a “federal power grab” over the Bay cleanup effort.

“My amendment stops the EPA from hijacking states’ water quality strategies,” he said. “It removes the ability of the EPA to take retaliatory or ‘backstop’ actions against the six states located in the Chesapeake Bay watershed if they do not meet EPA-mandated goals.”

It might be slightly possible to take Goodlatte’s concerns seriously if Virginia Republican Congressmen Rob Wittman and Scott Taylor and Maryland GOP Congressman Andy Harris– normally party-line voters– had not joined the unanimous Democratic minority to oppose Goodlatte’s measure. All three represent districts bordering the Chesapeake Bay.

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