Battle Lines Drawn in Appeal of Bay Restoration Efforts

(ANNAPOLIS, MD)—With the deadline for engaging in the case now past, the final battle lines have been drawn in the fight over Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts. The case pits the American Farm Bureau Federation and its allies against the federal Environmental Protection Agency, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and our allies.

The Farm Bureau recruited 21 state attorneys general to file an amicus brief in opposition to clean-up efforts. On the other side, amici briefs were filed by: the states of Virginia, and Maryland, Delaware, and the District of Columbia; seven cities, including Baltimore; a group of prominent law professors; and environmental, and conservation organizations from across the country; (A complete list of the parties and organizations signing amicus briefs is attached.)

"The broad support for Bay restoration from across the country underscores the importance of clean water to the nation," said Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) President William C. Baker. "Many eyes are watching what we are doing in the Chesapeake region. Most people understand the economic, environmental, and human health costs of polluted waters. They believe that all of us, including the plaintiffs, should do our fair share to reduce pollution. Sadly, the plaintiffs stand alone, and say, 'Not me.'"

At issue is the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL or pollution limits), developed by EPA and the Bay states, which sets the maximum nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment pollution that the water bodies can withstand and remain healthy. Taken together, those limits and the individual state plans designed to achieve the pollution reduction goals create the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint.

Opponents of the Blueprint contend that EPA has usurped the states' authority over land use and development. Those supporting the Blueprint point out that the states and EPA cooperated to develop the pollution limits and that each state developed its own implementation plan. These are exactly the actions called for under the Clean Water Act.

The case was originally heard by federal Judge Sylvia Rambo in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in October of 2012. In September of 2013 she upheld the clean-up efforts and dismissed the claim of EPA overreach. The Farm Bureau and its allies have appealed that decision to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia. Oral arguments are expected this summer.

"The joint effort is legally sound and has overwhelming support from the region's residents and from many others from around the country who value the Chesapeake," said Jon Mueller, CBF Vice President for Litigation. "It is unfortunate and counter-productive that the Farm Bureau and its allies continue to fight this cooperative effort to restore clean water to a national treasure."

"We are already seeing progress, demonstrating that when citizens, businesses, and governments work together we can succeed in restoring the health of the regions' rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay," Baker said. "This is the moment in time for Bay restoration and the Blueprint is the best chance to save the Bay."

View the briefs filed in support of EPA

Get the facts about the Bay Blueprint.

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