EPA Sewage "Blending" Proposal Thwarted!
Shellfish Win One!

House Voted to Block Administration Plan to Ease
Sewage Dumping Regulations

WASHINGTON, DC (May 20, 2005) - The House of Representatives last night voted overwhelmingly to block the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from finalizing its so-called 'sewage blending' proposal, which would have allowed sewer operators more latitude on when they could release partially treated sewage into the nation's waters.

A few hours before the House passed a bipartisan anti-sewage dumping amendment to an appropriations bill, the EPA announced its decision to drop the controversial policy. Faced with the prospect of an embarrassing defeat in the House, the EPA and its congressional allies had no choice but to wake up and smell the sewage. They finally got the message that people want less, not more sewage in the water they drink, the rivers where they fish and the beaches and lakes where they swim. With this victory, Congress delivered a strong message reminding EPA that its mission is to protect our health and environment.

We're especially grateful to those who led the fight to safeguard us from sewage, particularly Representatives Bart Stupak (D-Mich), Clay Shaw (R-Fla), Jeff Miller (R-Fla) and Frank Pallone (D-NJ). The ECSGA and Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association (PCSGA) worked with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Clean Water Action, American Rivers and the League of Conservation Voters in a unique collaboration that brought business people who make their living on the water together with environmentalists who share the common goals of preserving the water quality of our nation's coasts, while reducing illness due to waterborne diseases.

Together we were able to mobilize enough pressure to force our public officials to do the right thing. Robin Downy of the PCSGA and Bob Rheault of the ECSGA spoke in January at an NRDC-sponsored hearing in Washington, DC. We explained the issue to a standing-room crowd of congressional aides, trying to make them understand the potential impact of the EPA's proposed rule to relax sewage dumping.

This resulted in a letter co-signed by over a hundred Congressmen and women opposing the EPA's plan. The issue was high on our priority list as we visited with our congressional delegations, and letters and phone calls from constituents kept pressure on our legislators despite heavy pressure from administration operatives who wanted to justify cutting the budgets for state sewer infrastructure improvements.

In May a bill was submitted to block the EPA's proposal and it was gaining steam when, finally, the blending policy was killed when an amendment to EPA's appropriation bill to cut funding to implement the blending policy passed overwhelmingly. To any of you who wrote a letter or made a phone call or sent an e-mail: Thank you! You deserve a pat on the back. This was an important win for shellfish farmers. Keep those phone numbers handy, there are sure to be more battles to fight.

Bob Rheault President, ECSGA