Farm Bureau files for summary judgment in Chesapeake Bay case

WASHINGTON—The American Farm Bureau and other plaintiffs filed for summary judgment Jan. 27 in a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over the agency’s total maximum daily load for the Chesapeake Bay watershed. 

AFBF and Pennsylvania Farm Bureau filed the suit in January 2011, asserting that the EPA’s TMDL sets new controls on land use that trespass into territory Congress legally reserved for state governments. Other associations have joined the suit since then. 

A brief filed last week also charges that the TMDL is based on flawed technical analysis and computer models that have proved to be fundamentally unworkable. 

A summary judgment is a ruling on the merits of a case without a full trial. 

"We all want a clean and healthy Chesapeake Bay," said AFBF President Bob Stallman. "This lawsuit is about how we reach that common goal. Farm Bureau believes EPA’s new regulation is unlawful and costly without providing the environmental benefit promised. Farmers in the watershed have clearly delivered a documented track record of continuous improvement through conservation and sound stewardship and will continue their dedicated efforts." 

The TMDL dictates how much nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment can be allowed into the bay and its tributaries from different areas and sources. According to AFBF’s brief, TMDL proposals are "informational tools" under the Clean Water Act. In EPA’s action, however, the TMDL goes beyond the traditional and lawful scope and authority. 

"It imposes detailed pollutant ‘allocations’ among sources throughout the bay’s vast watershed," the brief noted. "These mandatory allocations of allowable pollutant loading among farms, towns and homeowners amount to nothing short of a federal TMDL implementation plan. This plan directly encroaches on state authority over land and water quality planning—not only in states bordering the bay, but in states hundreds of miles away. EPA’s action is not authorized under the (Clean Water) Act." 

Contact Tracy Taylor Grondine, 202-406-3642, or Mace Thornton, 202-406-3641, AFBF public relations. 

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