Virginia May Withdraw from Potomac Valley Compact
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has called for the elimination of approximately $150,000 in state dues to the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin. The Commission, which was established in 1940 through the passage of the Potomac Valley Compact, promotes water quality and related land protection among the Potomac Basin states. Virginia was a founding member of the compact, which also includes the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. The compact received Congressional Consent in 1940.
In an effort to reduce spending during difficult financial times for state governments, McDonnell included an amendment in Virginia’s 2011 General Assembly that would eliminate annual dues paid by Virginia to the ICPRB. As a result of this the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has prepared draft legislation to withdraw from the compact should additional funding not become available.
Supporters of the compact argue that $150,000 is an extremely small percentage of the states ongoing operating budget, which will total approximately $40 billion each of the next two years. Additionally, supporters contend that the value provided to the state through membership in the compact far outweighs the costs associated with membership.
While it is not unprecedented for states to withdraw from interstate compacts, it will be interesting to see how this debate unfolds. If Virginia does elect to withdraw, will the remaining member states follow suit? Would Virginia rejoin the compact once the economy rebounds? Could this decision have consequences for other compacts Virginia is a member of? Stay tuned.
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