Washington, D.C. – November 4, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) today released the following statement on his vote in favor of the Federal Water Quality Protection Act:
“We need to continue to take responsible steps towards protecting Ohio’s streams, rivers and lakes, but this proposed federal regulation goes too far. By impeding state laws, these new rules may actually make it harder to respond to water problems. For instance, I have worked to pass a numbers of bills that have improved federal assistance to states like Ohio experiencing the effects of harmful algal blooms. While well intentioned, I believe the U.S. EPA’s new water rule could hamper Ohio’s ability to react quickly to harmful algal blooms by centralizing water policy in Washington, creating new red tape and bureaucracy in the process.
“I have heard a lot of concerns from Ohio farmers about how this rule will damage agriculture, the number one industry in Ohio. The rule will also provide new barriers to economic development in Ohio and could curtail critical infrastructure construction and maintenance. The Administration needs to go back to the drawing board and work collaboratively with all stakeholders to develop an effective, balanced rule that protects our environment while not hurting agriculture and economic development.”
“While we can all agree that the intent of the Clean Water Rule should be to protect our water quality, better define terminology and simplify the permit review process; many local government, agricultural, transportation and business stakeholders believe that the rule needs to go back to the drawing board,” said Union County Commissioner Steve Stolte. “We need further robust discussion with state and local governments to find practical, workable rules and regulations that can achieve our shared goals of protecting water resources, ensuring the safety of our communities and minimizing unnecessary delays and costs. The proposed rule introduces new and unclear definitions that will likely have negative impacts on economic and agricultural development. The ever-expanding reach of federal regulation has led to extended project delays resulting in increased construction costs of private and public projects, oftentimes, for example, delaying implementation of much needed safety improving transportation projects.”
Portman serves as vice-chair of the Great Lakes Task Force. He authored the Drinking Water Protection Act which was signed into law in August 2015. This legislation will direct the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop and report to Congress a strategic Algal Toxin Risk Assessment and Management Plan within 90 days. The Plan will evaluate the risk to human health from drinking water provided by public water systems contaminated with algal toxins and recommend feasible treatment options, including procedures and source water protection practices, to mitigate any adverse public health effects associated with harmful algal blooms.
Portman also authored the Harmful Algal Blooms (HAB) and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act of 2013 (PL 113-124), which was signed into law by President Obama in July 2014. For the first time ever, this legislation ensures federal agencies prioritize monitoring, research and mitigation efforts on harmful algal blooms in fresh water bodies such as Lake Erie.