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 in favor of the U.S. EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) pollution-prevention plan (first published in December 2010), in a lawsuit by the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Home Builders Association, and other organizations. The Appeals Court panel had heard oral arguments in November 2014.
The case is American Farm Bureau v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; case number 13-4079; access to a PDF of the Appeals Court’s opinion is available online at http://www.ca3.uscourts.gov/opinions-and-oral-arguments (click on the “Search for Opinions” link and use the case number).
The Farm Bureau and the other plaintiffs in the lawsuit—first filed in January 2011—were 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 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.
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 a briefs on either side of the lawsuit; and West Virginia joined 20 other states and several Bay-watershed counties in filed in support of the Farm Bureau and other plaintiffs. Several of the states supporting 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.
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.
Challenge to Chesapeake cleanup tests EPA power, Associated Press, as published by Richmond Times-Dispatch, 4/29/14.
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.
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 (from 2011 to 2014) on this lawsuit are available at this link: https://vawatercentralnewsgrouper.wordpress.com/?s=American+Farm+Bureau+Federation.