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Shutdown Would Hamper D.C. Environmental Work, Chesapeake Bay Cleanup

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Sunset over the Chesapeake Bay from the Eastern Shore of Maryland.
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Sunset over the Chesapeake Bay from the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

In the District, the Department of the Environment (DDOE) would be reduced to a skeleton staff to respond to emergencies — but regular activities including investigations into illegal dumping and the issuance of environmental permits for construction would stop.

"We will not be doing inspections, we will not be issuing notices of infraction and violation and we will not be doing our permitting which is a fundamental part of the economic development process here in the city," says Christophe Tulou, director of DDOE.

Doug Siglin, federal affairs director at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, says the current budget negotiations and possible shutdown could have an effect on the entire Chesapeake Bay region. That's because the House budget bill passed Thursday includes a rider from Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) that would strip funding for the EPA's Chesapeake Bay cleanup plan.

If that language is included in a final budget agreement between Congressional leaders, "it would have an enormous impact, if you take that literally farmers wouldn't get any cost-share assistance from USDA," says Siglin. "Cities and towns wouldn't get assistance to upgrade sewage treatment plans — all federal funds that go to pollution reduction would be stopped for the rest of the year."

On other environmental projects, the EPA says it will continue to clean up Superfund sites where stopping would pose a public health risk and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says work would continue at Fort Detrick and Spring Valley sites because contracts there have been paid for already with existing budget funding.

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