Chesapeake Bay TMDL Lawsuit Review Refused by U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 29, 2016, Letting Stand Previous Court Rulings Upholding U.S. EPA’s Actions

On February 29, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal by the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Home Builders Association, and other organizations of their lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL).

The high court’s refusal to hear the case let stand previous federal court rulings.  On July 6, 2015, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, located in Philadelphia, upheld a September 2013 lower court ruling (by Judge Sylvia H. Rambo in the federal district court in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) in favor of the U.S. EPA’s TMDL pollution-prevention plan (first published in December 2010).  The lawsuit alleged 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, but Judge Rambo upheld both the process and substance of the EPA’s actions.

The case, first filed in January 2011, was American Farm Bureau v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; the Appeals Court case number 13-4079; access to a PDF of the Appeals Court’s opinion is available online at (click on the “Search for Opinions” link and use the case number). EPA information on the TMDL is available online at Farm Bureau information about the case is available online at

During the appeals process, among the Bay watershed states Virginia and Maryland filed briefs supporting the EPA; Delaware and the District of Columbia joined in Maryland’s brief; neither Pennsylvania nor New York filed briefs on either side of the lawsuit; and West Virginia joined 20 other states and several Bay-watershed counties in filing in support of the Farm Bureau and other plaintiffs.  Several of the states that supported the Farm Bureau lawsuit are in the Mississippi River drainage, and part of their concern was that approval of the EPA process in the Chesapeake Bay may lead the agency to seek a TMDL for the impacts on the Gulf of Mexico of agriculture or other land uses in the vast Mississippi River basin.

Sources (hyperlinks for older articles may no longer be working):
Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load Implementation, Lexology, 3/14/16.
Supreme Court will not hear challenge to Chesapeake Bay cleanup, Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, 2/29/16.
Chesapeake Bay: Supreme Court shoots down challenge to cleanup plan, E&E Publishing GreenWire, 2/29/16.
Supreme Court lets Chesapeake Bay plan stand, Staunton News Leader, 2/29/16.
CBF [and] U.S. Justice ask Supreme Court to rebuff challenge to Chesapeake pollution diet, Bay Journal, 1/20/16.
US appeals court upholds Chesapeake Bay clean-up plan, Washington Post, 7/6/15.
Court upholds EPA in putting Chesapeake Bay on ‘pollution diet’, Baltimore Sun, 7/6/15.
Appeals Court hears oral arguments on Chesapeake Bay TMDL, Bay Journal, 11/24/14.
Pennsylvania won’t defend Chesapeake Bay cleanup plan in court, but ‘actively supports it’, Lancaster (Penn.) Online 5/13/14.
Virginia Files Amicus Brief In Support Of Chesapeake Bay Restoration, Virginia Attorney General’s Office News Release, 4/10/14.
Fight Over Chesapeake Bay Clean-Up, WVTF-FM (Roanoke, Va.), 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.
21 states, 8 counties join Farm Bureau challenge to Bay TMDL, Bay Journal, 2/5/14.
Virginia growers upset with latest Chesapeake Bay ruling, Southeast Farm Press, 9/18/13.
Farm Federation May Appeal Chesapeake Bay Decision, WYPR-FM (Baltimore, Md.), 9/16/13.
Judge upholds pollution fight in Chesapeake Bay cleanup, Associated Press, as published in Richmond Times-Dispatch, 9/15/13.
EPA can go forward with plan to limit pollution in the Chesapeake Bay, Washington Post, 9/13/13.

Previous Water Central News Grouper items (beginning in 2011) on this lawsuit are available at this link:

One response to “Chesapeake Bay TMDL Lawsuit Review Refused by U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 29, 2016, Letting Stand Previous Court Rulings Upholding U.S. EPA’s Actions

  1. Pingback: Lawsuit by Farm Bureau and Others Against EPA Over Chesapeake Bay TMDL in Federal Appeals Court as of April 2014; Virginia Attorney General Brief in Support of EPA Filed April 10, 2014; Maryland Brief in Support of EPA Filed April 28 | Virginia Water Cent

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s