In Public Comment Letter Casey Says Unnecessary Fine Could Hurt City Finances
Washington DC- Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) filed a public comment with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calling on them to rescind its proposed fine against the city of Lebanon.
The EPA proposed fining Lebanon over storm drainage issues earlier this year. Specifically, the city of Lebanon proposed installing an aeration fountain around Stoever’s Dam to alleviate the impact of algae in a surrounding body of water. The EPA disagreed with the city’s plans and issued a fine.
Once EPA raised concerns about Lebanon’s drainage issue, the city successfully fixed the problem to the agency’s satisfaction, yet the EPA is still planning on fining Lebanon. Earlier this year, Casey weighed in against the fine with a personal letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and today filed an official public comment with the Agency pushing them to rescind the fine. When the EPA proposes a fine there exists a period for public input in which comments can be filed.
In his letter Casey wrote, “I am frustrated that, while cities and towns across Pennsylvania struggle to recover their economies and create jobs, the Environmental Protection Agency has fined Lebanon instead of approving its proposed green infrastructure project. “
The full text of Casey’s letter to the EPA can be seen below:
March 26, 2012
Regional Hearing Clerk (3RC00)
U.S. EPA, Region III
1650 Arch Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103-2029
NPDES Permit No.: PAG1333613
Docket No.: CWA-03-2012-0095
To: Regional Hearing Clerk (3RC00)
I am writing in regard to a fine being levied on the City of Lebanon, Pennsylvania for violations of the Clean Water Act. I am frustrated that, while cities and towns across Pennsylvania struggle to recover their economies and create jobs, the Environmental Protection Agency intends to fine Lebanon instead of approving its proposed green infrastructure project. While EPA has offered to reduce the fine, this fine may make it more difficult for Lebanon to address critical issues the city faces. Also, I believe the levying of this fine will further hinder Lebanon’s ability to achieve compliance, which is intended to be a major factor in EPA’s fine calculation process. I believe the green infrastructure project could have strengthened Lebanon and done more to achieve the EPA’s environmental goals. I ask that the EPA review its decision.
By installing an aeration fountain in the feeder pond at Stoever's Dam and constructing a riparian buffer around the pond, Lebanon would have reduced the flow of algae-causing discharge into the lake and eliminated the need to dump chemicals into the lake to treat the oxygen-choking algae. I think these are very positive benefits. While Lebanon acknowledges that the project would not be entirely contained within the city limits, I do not believe this fact should prevent the EPA from approving the project.
Since the time Lebanon became aware of its noncompliance with the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System regulations, the city has made efforts to comply. Lebanon has mapped its catch basins and is monitoring the discharge into the Quittapahilla Creek. The people and the municipal workers of Lebanon are now educated on storm sewer drainage practices. I believe these positive steps aimed at reducing the discharge of pollutants and nutrients into stormwater systems demonstrate Lebanon’s commitment to protecting the environment and show a good faith effort to comply with EPA requirements.
Thank you for your attention to this matter. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me or my staff at 202-224-6324.
Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator