Republican Sen. Pat Toomey asked the Environmental Protection Agency last week to reduce - or dismiss entirely - the $128,608 in fines that four Pennsylvania communities face for noncompliance with the Clean Water Act's stormwater management regulations.
Manor Township, Swatara Township and Lebanon and York cities were cited in 2010 for being in violation of provision 13 of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, which regulates urban runoff.
A subsequent EPA review of Manor Township's records determined that the municipality's documentation and training were inadequate or incomplete.
In a letter to EPA administrator Shawn Garvin, Toomey took issue with the agency's decision and requested a detailed explanation of its rationale.
"How did EPA account for the financial strains caused by damages from Tropical Storm Lee and other natural disasters in central Pennsylvania in 2011?" he asked, pointing out the agency's legal responsibility to consider "an entity's ability to pay before assessing a penalty."
Toomey also asked the EPA to consider rescinding the fines if Manor and the other offending municipalities were to meet certain environmental benchmarks.
"It is my hope that we can find a compromise that allows these fines to be waived," he said.
In a conference call, spokespersons for Toomey described the violations as being "mainly clerical issues" concerning the municipalities' inability to prove their adherence to construction ordinances or employee training.
"It's not like the EPA is actually accusing these townships of pumping pollutants into the waters," said Nachama Soloveichik, a Toomey spokeswoman. "It's mainly record-keeping issues that could have been handled better."
A legally mandated 40-day period in which the public can voice concerns about the action ends today.
To participate, visit www.epa.gov/reg3wapd/public....