For a February 2016 update on the resolution of this case, please see this post.
As of April 18, 2014, the lawsuit by the American Farm Bureau, the National Home Builders Association, and other organizations against the U.S. EPA over the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) pollution-reduction plan (issued by the EPA in December 2010) remained under consideration by the federal Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, located in Philadelphia. The case is American Farm Bureau v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; case number 13-4079.
The Farm Bureau and the other plaintiffs in the lawsuit—first filed in January 2011—are appealing the September 13, 2013, ruling in favor of the EPA by Judge Sylvia H. Rambo in the federal district court in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The lawsuit alleges that the EPA exceeded its authority at the expense of state authority, used inaccurate or inadequate scientific information, and followed too short a regulatory timetable in developing the TMDL. Judge Rambo upheld both the process and substance of the EPA’s actions.
On April 10, 2014, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced that the Commonwealth had filed a brief supporting the EPA. On February 3, 2014, 21 state attorneys general, including the attorney general in Bay-watershed state West Virginia, and eight Bay-watershed counties joined the case in support of the Farm Bureau and other plaintiffs. Several of those states are in the Mississippi River drainage, and part of their concern is that approval of the EPA process in the Chesapeake Bay may lead the agency to seek a TMDL for the impacts of the Mississippi basin on the Gulf of Mexico.
Sources: Virginia Files Amicus Brief In Support Of Chesapeake Bay Restoration, Virginia Attorney General’s Office News Release, 4/10/14; and 21 states, 8 counties join Farm Bureau challenge to Bay TMDL, Bay Journal, 2/5/14.
UPDATE 5/14/14: On April 30, 2014, Maryland submitted a brief in support of the EPA. Delaware and the District of Columbia joined in submitting that brief. On May 12, 2014, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection stated that Pennsylvania has not joined the lawsuit but “actively supports” the Chesapeake Bay TMDL. New York has also not filed a brief on either side of the lawsuit. Update sources: Pennsylvania won’t defend Chesapeake Bay cleanup plan in court, but ‘actively supports it’, Lancaster (Penn.) Online 5/13/14. Challenge to Chesapeake cleanup tests EPA power, Associated Press, as published by Richmond Times-Dispatch, 4/29/14.
For a previous News Grouper item on the District Court’s ruling in September 2013, please see Chesapeake Bay TMDL Upheld in Lawsuit Against U.S. EPA in Federal District Court in Pennsylvania; Ruling Issued 9-13-13, posted 9/17/13.
Other news accounts about the lawsuit: Fight Over Chesapeake Bay Clean-Up, WVTF (Blacksburg Va.) IQ Radio, 2/5/14; Wicomico [County, Md.] Joins Effort to Modify EPA Chesapeake Cleanup Plan, Delmarva Public Radio, 2/24/14; Lancaster County [Penn.] joins fight against EPA in setting pollution limits for farmers, Lancaster (Pa.) Online, 2/4/14.