We need you to call a member of the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Environment today (see list of members and suggested script below).
In Massachusetts, the federal EPA regulates water pollution under the Clean Water Act. The permits granted to polluters are referred to as NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permits and they are co-issued by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) and the EPA. This program is critical to keeping our water clean, and to safeguarding public health and the environment.
We oppose the proposal (H. 2777) from Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker to transfer control over the NPDES permitting process from the EPA to MassDEP because:
On Tuesday October 10th, the state senators and representatives of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture (listed below) will be hearing this bill and deciding whether or not to transfer the NPDES program.
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:
- 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, 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. However, the recent history of budget cuts to MassDEP indicate it is unlikely this program will be adequately funded, leaving water resources more polluted.
- EPA has been a good steward of our water. The federal EPA deserves credit for dramatic improvements in our rivers. The Charles River, for example, is considered the cleanest urban river in the country. (By the way, delegation would take several years, so current issues with the EPA shouldn’t affect this decision, as we will have a new presidential administration by then).
- Long term concerns. Delegation is permanent. The current federal administration in Washington is temporary, but NPDES primacy, once granted, is forever.
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].
- 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 Thomas McGee (D-Lynn) (617-722-1350)
- 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 (D-Spencer) (617-722-2090)
- Representative James Kelcourse (D-Amesbury) (617-722-2130)
Kelsey Gubernat and Ben Sawosik, Nashua River Watershed Association college volunteers monitoring on Mulpus Brook in Shirley. Photo by Kathryn Nelson/NWRA