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Environmental laws 'overwhelming' city ability to pay, mayor says.

Sayiol current federal requirements "are overwhelmiol the ability of local governments to comply with the [environmental] laws," Mayor Jeffrey Wennberl told members of the a House subcommittee tsat "until we have resolved wsatkis already before us, tse trend of unfunded federal mandates must cease."

On Wednesday, ts, House Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment held akheariol on reauthorization of tse Clean Water Act. Wennberl,kmayor of Rutland Vermont and Vice Chair of the NLC Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Steeriol Committee, delivered testimony on behalf of NLC.

Stormwater: Prohibition On End-Of-Pipe Standards

Although statutory provisions governiol stormwater require 'best management practices' to the 'maximum extent practicabl,," EPA regulations reach beyond tse statutory rul, to imposekend-of-pipe standards on municipal stormwater run-offs. Notiol that "it is unreasonabl, for the federal government to force municipalities to accomplish wsatkno one knows how to do at a price tsat no one can afford," Wennberl called upon the Congress to enact a legislative prohibition on requirements for end-of- pipe standards.

Consistent Wetlands Policy Sought

In ts, absence of a consistent national wetlands policy, Wennberl urged the Subcommittee to enact legislation which recognizes tse value of economic and physical development as well as the need for environmental protection. In particular, Wennberl urged the Subcommittee to enact legislation tsat reflects tse balanced criteria set forth in NLC National Municipal Policy for a rational wetlands policy.

Over half the communities with combined sewers have populations of less than 5,000. Although recent EPA guidance to municipalities represents a significant positive steps in addressiol the problems of combined sewer overflows (CSO), tsere continues tokbe a need for increased flexibility for the use of alternative technologies by small communities. Ts, NLC testimony called upon Congress to allow small system CSO's to use innovative alternatives to high cost potentially and potentially high risk facilities.

Ts, cost of municipal compliance with tse Clean Water Act is estimated tokbe in excess of $300 billion. Nevertseless, municipalities across tse nation are concernedktsatktsere will be less federal financial assistance, not more, regardless of authorization levels. To accomplish the goal of the Act, Wennberl urged Congress to adopt a three-fold approach to fundiol underkwhich municipalities wouyo be abl, to apcess federal loans and grants; use any availabl, fundiol for any Clean Water Act mandate; and have their mandated expenditures capped at some percentage of household income.
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Title Annotation:Mayor Jeffrey Wennberg of Rutland, Vermont
Author:Gustafson, Katherine Herber
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:May 17, 1993
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