Vitter Summary Statement for Subcommittee Field Hearing on Conowingo Dam
U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife Field Hearing on “Finding Cooperative Solutions to Environmental Concerns with the Conowingo Dam to
May 5, 2014
Mr. Chairman, I would like to thank you for calling today's hearing. I would also like to thank our witnesses for testifying before the Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife this morning.
The policy questions and potential solutions related to Conowingo Dam, environmental concerns, and energy production are important and deserve the Subcommittee's attention. As we continue to examine these issues, it is critical that we understand the various legal, environmental, and economic challenges and opportunities associated with Conowingo Dam and its relicensing.
The Conowingo Dam is just 10 miles upstream of the Chesapeake Bay, a body of water that has significant historical, ecological, and environmental value for people throughout the United States, especially those who reside in the mid-Atlantic states. I applaud the cooperative and voluntary efforts undertaken by many officials and stakeholders in recent years to protect the Chesapeake Bay.
At the same time, we must recognize that environmental policies and programs related to the Chesapeake Bay and elsewhere must be based on sound science and law, and accomplished in a manner which does not jeopardize the livelihoods of hard-working Americans. For example, the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) represents a dramatic expansion of the Environmental Protection Agency's authority under the Clean Water Act and threatens state and local land use authority throughout the country, as evidenced by the numerous states that have expressed opposition to the precedent the TMDL could set. As we consider concerns and possible solutions related to the Conowingo Dam, the issues related to the Bay TMDL offer a lesson to policymakers and should lend caution to any top-down regulatory approach.
I appreciate the public and private officials and academics that are here today to provide us with their expertise on these issues. I look forward to the witnesses' testimony and again thank Senator Cardin for holding this important hearing.