EPA Signs Binding Commitment to Reduce Pollution; CBF and Partners' Lawsuit Achieves Goal!
This historic settlement is a legally binding, enforceable document that requires EPA to take specific actions by dates certain to ensure that pollution to local rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay is reduced sufficiently to remove the Bay from the federal "dirty waters" list.
The settlement mandates:
- Reasonable assurances—The settlement outlines what "reasonable assurances" EPA will require of the states to support the Bay TMDL. The Bay TMDL will establish limits for all sources of nitrogen, phosphorous, and sediment in the Bay region. The states will be required to develop Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs) explaining how they will meet the limits for all sources in each area of their state.
- Consequences—The settlement identifies what consequences EPA will impose upon states and localities that fail to develop sufficient WIPs or meet their limits. One of those consequences could be that permits will not be issued to new sources of pollution. That could include new sewage treatment plants or major new developments.
- Offsets—The settlement requires that the states offset all new nitrogen, phosphorous, and sediment loads. In the settlement EPA has agreed that each state's WIP will provide offsets for new or increased permitted discharges.
- Dates certain—The settlement establishes dates identifying when EPA will complete development of a Bay TMDL and when the states are to provide WIPs.
- Tracking—The settlement requires EPA to develop a tracking system that is publically available and which describes whether increased pollution from new, small sewage treatment plants and industrial dischargers have been included in calculating whether the state or local jurisdiction is meeting its new limits. CBF has recently seen an increase in small sewage treatment plants that are below EPA's permit threshold.
- EPA agrees that one of the biggest sources of pollution in the Bay region is urban stormwater and that this form of pollution is growing. EPA agreed to:
- review all new construction general permits (those that apply to categories of construction) drafted by Bay states and make sure they meet federal standards;
- by July 31, 2010 develop a guidance for major municipal stormwater permits in the Bay region; and
- by Nov. 19, 2012, take final action on industrial and municipal stormwater regulations.
- Reducing pollution from agriculture—The settlement commits EPA to proposing new regulations for controlling pollution from agriculture by Dec. 15, 2012 and taking final action by Dec. 15, 2014.
- Addressing air pollution—Under the settlement EPA will require an allocation for air deposition of nitrogen from the states in the Bay TMDL, so that some portion of the total nitrogen budget will be attributed to air pollution.