Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Appeals court upholds EPA's authority to reduce farm pollution in Chesapeake Bay

The Chesapeake Bay drains parts of six states.
On Monday a federal appeals court upheld the Environmental Protection Agency's "authority to order pollution reductions by Maryland and all the other states that drain into the Chesapeake Bay," Timothy Wheeler reports for The Baltimore Sun. "The U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia brushed aside challenges from agricultural and home building groups to the "pollution diet" that EPA imposed for the bay in 2010."

Circuit Judge Thomas Ambro acknowledged that the decision hurts rural counties and the agricultural industry, Philip Brasher reports for Agri-Pulse. Ambro said, "The winners are environmental groups, the states that border the Bay, tourists, fishermen, municipal wastewater treatment works and urban centers. The losers are rural counties with farming operations, nonpoint source polluters, the agricultural industry and those states that would prefer a lighter touch from the EPA."

Wheeler notes that in 2011 the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Assocation of Home Builders and other groups sued "to block the bay pollution plan, claiming that EPA overstepped its legal authority in demanding that the states curb runoff from farms and new development as well as from industry and sewage plants."

Environmental groups and municipal wastewater agencies argued "that if federal regulators could not insist on across-the-board pollution reductions, urban and suburban water and sewer system customers would be left to shoulder the entire cleanup burden," Wheeler writes. "Agriculture is the leading source of nutrient and sediment pollution, according to the EPA, while storm-water runoff is the only source of pollution still growing."

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