We need you to call a member of the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Environment today to protect our rivers (see list of members and suggested script below).
The environmental community has taken a strong stand for rivers by opposing H.2777. The supporters of this bill are making a final push for passage of this legislation, so we are once again calling on you to weigh in for the rivers – thanks!
Background. In Massachusetts, the federal EPA regulates water pollution with permits granted to polluters, referred to as NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permits. These permits are co-issued by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) and the EPA, but EPA has the final word, or “primacy.” The NPDES program is critical to keeping our water clean, and to safeguarding public health and the environment.
We oppose Governor Baker’s proposal (H. 2777) to transfer primacy over the NPDES permitting process from the EPA to MassDEP because:
- Could harm water quality. The majority of the environmental community is strongly opposed to this bill because it will provide no environmental benefit, and could harm water quality. The people who want this change are hoping MassDEP will be more “flexible” than EPA, potentially allowing more pollutants in our rivers, streams, and coastal waters, and for longer periods.
- Ill-prepared state agency. Due to a decade of budget cuts, MassDEP is severely underfunded and understaffed and cannot take on a new, expensive program at this time.
- Expensive program. This bill would delegate the water pollution permitting program (NPDES) from EPA to MassDEP, costing MA taxpayers an estimated $5-$10M/year.
- Unsustainable funding. The EPA currently provides this program at no cost to the state. Because the administration is not proposing a dedicated source of funding for this new program, the state legislature would need to appropriate funding every year, leaving the program extremely vulnerable to future budget cuts.
- Long term concerns. Delegation is permanent. The current federal administration in Washington is temporary, but NPDES primacy, once granted, is forever.
- Problems elsewhere. Proponents like to point out that 46 other states have delegated this program. However, many states have struggled to adequately fund and administer the program, leading to 49 legal petitions in 31 states by environmental groups asking EPA to take the program back (it never has).
By February 7th, 2018, the Joint Committee on Environment will decide whether to report the bill out to the Legislature for a vote or send the bill to study for further research. We need your help to tell Committee members that they should oppose this legislation.
Please call one or a few of the below Committee members and tell them to oppose H.2777. Please consider calling the legislator who lives closest to your town:
- Honorable Anne Gobi (D-Spencer), Chair of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture (617-722-1540)
- Honorable William Pignatelli (D-Lenox), Chair of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture (617-722-2210)
- Senator Michael Rush (D-West Roxbury) (617-722-1348)
- Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton) (617-722-1120)
- Senator Julian Cyr (D-Truro) (617-722-1570)
- Senator Ryan Fattman (D-Webster) (617-722-1420)
- Representative RoseLee Vincent (D-Revere) (617-722-2210)
- Representative Thomas Petrolati (D-Ludlow) (617-722-2255)
- Representative Robert Koczera (D-New Bedford) (617-722-2582)
- Representative Mary Keefe (D-Worcester) (617-722-2210)
- Representative John Velis (D-Westfield) (617-722-2877)
- Representative Christine Barber (D-Somerville) (617-722-2210)
- Representative Dylan Fernandes (D-Falmouth) (617-722-2430)
- Representative Jack Lewis (D-Framingham) (617-722-2460)
- Representative Donald Berthiaume (R-Spencer) (617-722-2090)
- Representative James Kelcourse (R-Amesbury) (617-722-2130)
Below is a sample script for your phone calls:
“Hello, my name is _____________ and I live in ______________, Massachusetts. I am calling to ask that Representative/Senator _____________ opposes House bill 2777, An Act to enable the Commonwealth’s administration of the Massachusetts Pollutant Discharge Elimination System. I am worried that this could hurt water quality in Massachusetts. MassDEP does not have the resources to take on this new program, and I think it should remain with the EPA. Thank you for your consideration.” [You can use the talking points above if you need them].