Legislation proposed by Governor Baker to transfer authority from the federal government (EPA) to the state (MassDEP) to regulate water pollution will not be voted on this session and has been sent to study.
Mass Rivers opposed efforts to transfer authority for regulation from EPA to MassDEP at this time, a move that would cost the state about $6M annually. As one legislator put it, we wondered, “What will we get for our $6M?” MassDEP’s water programs have been severely underfunded for the past few years, and the agency has lost staff both to budget cuts and early retirements. As a result, the agency currently does not have the resources to meet its existing water management responsibilities. In our view, adding a new program would only further overwhelm the state agency.
We are hopeful that our work with the legislature increased awareness about MassDEP’s needs and will lead to more funding, and we will continue to make this case to our legislators. Whether or not Governor Baker tries again to take control of water pollution control from EPA, MassDEP will need additional resources to protect the health of our rivers.
For more detail you can read our letter in opposition to delegation that was sent by Mass Rivers to members of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture regarding the proposed bill (H.4254).