This week, the Bay claimed a victory over thirty years in the making. Bay state governors and the EPA administrator first agreed on plans to clean up the Bay in 1983. However, decades of unmet promises and increasingly dirty waters led to the development of the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint in 2010. This established a framework by which the states and EPA worked cooperatively to identify science-based limits on the pollution fouling the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers and streams. Subsequently, each state developed its own plan to achieve those limits and committed to two-year milestones that outline the actions they will take to achieve those limits. Most importantly, EPA promised consequences for failure. Finally, the fight for clean water had some teeth. Shortly thereafter however, powerful special interests attacked the new agreement.
Led by the American Farm Bureau Federation, national agricultural and development industry groups challenged the Blueprint's pollution limits in court. After the legality of the Blueprint was upheld in federal District Court, the decision was appealed to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals where the three-judge panel unanimously affirmed the lower court ruling. The Farm Bureau then appealed the decision to the highest court in the land, the United States Supreme Court. Monday, the Supreme Court denied the Farm Bureau's request to hear the case, thereby allowing the ruling of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals to stand.
The fight is finally over. As Jon Mueller, CBF Vice President for Litigation, said, "For five years we have fought in the courts to defend a commonsense solution to reducing pollution, a solution borne of a cooperative relationship between the states, the federal government, and the citizens of the Bay Region. Today, that fight has ended. Now, we can all lay down the law books and focus on the hard work of restoring the Bay to a healthy and vibrant state." A pause for celebration has passed, and we are left with the reality that the success of the Blueprint--the Bay's best, and perhaps last chance, for real restoration--now depends entirely on it's implementation. We will build upon the framework of the Blueprint, and not cease in our efforts until the Bay, a true national treasure, is saved.
This Week in the Watershed: A Historic Victory for the Bay
- Be sure to check out this editorial in support of the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the legality of the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint. (Virginian Pilot--VA)
- Many news outlets covered the Supreme Court decision: Baltimore Sun--MD; Patriot News--PA; Capital Gazette--MD; Bay Journal; ThinkProgress; Richmond Times-Dispatch--VA; Daily Press--MD; Washington Post--D.C.; York Dispatch--PA.
- The momentous news of the week: the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the legality of the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint by rejecting to hear an appeal by the American Farm Bureau Federation and a group of other special interests. (CBF Press Release)
- Pennsylvania released a plan to "reboot" its efforts in cleaning their rivers and streams. The reboot however is endanger of not receiving adequate funding--a scenario which would ensure its failure. (Bay Journal)
What's Happening Around the Watershed?
- Richmond, VA: Enjoy tasty sweets and sweet knowledge at CBF's Desserts and Discussion, where we'll learn about different aspects of our local waterways! This month, Dr. Lesley Bulluck, assistant professor at VCU's Department of Biology and the Center for Environmental Studies will speak on her work with Prothonotary Warblers. Bring a dessert to share with the group and win a prize for the most delicious contribution! CBF will also provide coffee, tea, and other drinks. Stay tuned for a registration page! Questions? Contact Blair Blanchette at firstname.lastname@example.org or 804-780-1392.
- Machipongo, VA: Learn how native plants can enhance the beauty of yards and gardens, attract beneficial birds and insects, and improve the health of local creeks and the Chesapeake Bay. A complimentary lunch will be provided. Click here to register!
- Stay tuned for a spring chock full of events, ranging from tree plantings to town halls to discovery paddles. Check out our online calendar to get the full scoop!
--Drew Robinson, CBF's Digital Media Associate