U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, R-KS, in a letter sent, to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Carol Browner, requested a meeting with her regarding water quality in Kansas.
Text of the letter follows. "Water quality is an issue of utmost importance to the state of Kansas." Brownback said. "The state has taken numerous voluntary, incentive-based actions in the past few years to address concerns about nonpoint source pollution and water quality. Unfortunately, EPA's current proposed federal regulations for the remaining unapproved water quality standards in Kansas are moving the state away from its ability to find cooperative solutions with citizens. More importantly, the threatened federal intervention will violate the state's rightful jurisdiction to make water use decisions. I ask that you, personally, take action to ensure the EPA works with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment as the Clean Water Act demands.
"The Clean Water Act charges states with setting specific water quality standards, because Congress recognized that the states were in a much better position to make determinations about how to best protect their own waters. Because of differences in geography, industry and water use needs, it is vital that these important decisions remain the jurisdiction of the state. The only reason for EPA to step in is if the state has shown an unwillingness or an inability to protect its own waters. This standard has not been met in Kansas, and I urge the agency to proceed in a more democratic manner in resolving the current dispute.
"In talking with constituents about this issue and at the recent hearing, in Topeka and Dodge City, I have repeatedly heard concerns that EPA has its own agenda for controlling water use, regulating unfavorable idustries--like agriculture out of business and abandoning cost-effective common sense approaches. This may not be EPA' s true goal, but stepping in to regulate farm ponds and requiring low flow areas to assume swimming and fishing uses cements this unfortunate impression.
"Further more, the agency seems unwilling to take into account the immense cost which will occur by preceding with EPA's proposed standards. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment estimated that these stands will cost the state between $100 million to $240 million. I understand that there cannot be a price put on clean water, but that is not what these EPA-written standards are about. The issue at hand is the process by which Kansas protects an cleans up its impaired water. It is unsettling that so much cost and burden could be leveled on my state without significant environmental benefits.
"Because there is so much at stake for Kansas, I ask that you meet with me on this issue in the next few weeks and provide concrete options for avoiding unnecessary federal intervention. If we cannot find resolution to this issue, I will be forced to look into legislative options to protect the rights of Kansas to designate, protect and use water, " Brownback said.