Judge upholds EPA's regulation of Chesapeake Bay

Agricultural groups concerned about EPA dictating how farmers achieve clean water.

A federal judge has rejected a legal challenge to the Chesapeake Bay total maximum daily load (TMDL), ruling that "the framework established by the Bay Partnership in developing the Bay TMDL is consistent with" applicable law and that "EPA did not unlawfully infringe on the Bay states' rights" because the Clean Water Act "envisions a strong federal role for ensuring pollution reduction."

EPA called the ruling by U.S. Court Judge Sylvia H. Rambo on Sept. 13, 2013, "a victory for the 17 million people in the Chesapeake Bay watershed."

In a statement, American Farm Bureau Federation president Bob Stallman expressed disappointment with the district court's ruling. "We believe the ruling is incorrect and has huge implications for farmers and many others in the Bay area and nationwide," he said.

The agricultural community has resisted EPA's move to implement a "pollution diet" in the Chesapeake Bay in fear of what it could implement across the nation. Stallman said farmers care deeply about the natural environment and want to do their part to improve water quality.

"But Congress did not authorize EPA to dictate how farmers, builders, homeowners, and towns would share the responsibility of achieving clean water.  That is the states’ job.  We believe EPA’s approach wrongly puts federal agency staff in charge of intensely local land use decisions," Stallman said. "AFBF and our allies in this case are reviewing the decision and evaluating next steps."

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