Opening Statement

Senator Mike Crapo, Chairman

Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, and Water

 

I am glad to welcome David Mabe from Idaho.  David is the Administrator of Water Quality Programs for the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality. David and I worked together on the issues we are discussing today when I served in the Idaho Senate.  At that time, Idaho was wrestling with a poorly made 303(d) list and a short deadline for making it defensible and taking action on the actual problems. In recalling those days I notice that litigation still ties this issue in knots and we are still struggling to solve many of the same problems.

 

Today we will discuss several aspects of clean water.  Although we all understand the fundamental importance of water, we should not gloss over this obvious importance. We should begin today’s discussion remembering that our shared goal is to continue improving the cleanliness of water.  We should do this by focusing on action and results instead of endless arguments about the right level of precaution.

 

The Clean Water Act is one of the statutes that allow a productive State-Federal relationship.  It is important that we protect the basis for that relationship in the law, and that we use that relationship fully.  By working together, Federal and State governments can accomplish more and can discover more and better ways of sharing responsibility on all aspects of conservation.

 

To protect this State-Federal partnership, we should attend especially to whether and how the Federal partner should approve or disapprove of State decisions.  In developing Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs), for example, State decisions should be respected on which water bodies should be listed and in what order the list should be acted upon.

 

On this and other specific issues, the Federal program should accept responsibility for showing that an inadequacy exists instead of fixating on levels of effort.  By confusing effort with results, we can waste valuable resources and gravely delay progress.

 

Issues to review for the hearing

 

Total Maximum Daily Loads:  Idaho started early to tackle this enormous undertaking, and we continue to struggle with a task that seemingly will absorb any amount of money.

 

Pollution trading:  . . . is another area in which our state has been a pioneer.  We hope to use this and other market-type rules to focus resources to their most effective uses.

 

Stormwater management:  . . . is a tale of many cities.  Today we will hear the widely divergent experiences of two American cities.  The difficulty of anticipating the specific needs of many communities within a national rule will be displayed obviously today.

 

Spill containment:  like stormwater, a problem of national rulemaking?

 

Negligence standards:  finally, we must be sure that policy creates incentives to identify and fix problems.  Today we will consider whether current rules of negligence under the Clean Water Act present deterrents.