Okla. delegation expresses concern over future of EPA water quality program
BY JIM MYERS World Washington Bureau
Thursday, September 17, 2009
WASHINGTON -- The Oklahoma congressional delegation expressed concern Thursday that a federal agency is moving away from a successful voluntary program tied to Tulsa's water quality.
In a letter to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, the delegation said Oklahoma's $9 million investment in the program since 2003 has resulted in a 66 percent reduction in phosphorous levels in Beaty Creek.
That creek is a tributary to the Eucha-Spavinaw watershed, which is the primary water supply for Tulsa.
A 69 percent reduction in phosphorous and nitrogen has been realized in the Peacheater Creek subwatershed of the scenic Illinois River, according to the delegation's letter.
"Through voluntary, cooperative action that addresses water quality problems while respecting private property rights, several additional streams have been removed from the 303(d) list for bacteria, sediment, and pesticide pollution,'' the letter states.
"We are concerned, however, that EPA has neglected funding for section 319 and may be considering altering current regulations to mandate certain nonpoint source pollution reduction efforts.
"We believe such efforts would fail to take into account the already successful reduction of nonpoint source pollution in Oklahoma.''
In addition, the lawmakers stated, a change in EPA's approach would impede severely future efforts to reduce pollution in the state by disenfranchising many who have worked hard to achieve improvements to water quality.
They also cited current economic woes, adding the federal government should be ensuring states can continue to use innovative and flexible ways to address complex environmental issues.
"By imposing one-size-fits-all regulations on states, the EPA will sacrifice effectiveness while increasing costs for state governments and taxpayers during a time when they can least afford them,'' the lawmakers stated.
The letter was signed by Republican Sens. Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn and Reps. John Sullivan, Frank Lucas, Tom Cole and Mary Fallin and Democratic Rep. Dan Boren.