Federal Courts Back US EPA’s Authority on Bay TMDL

The EPA has the authority to declare pollution limits in impaired waterways, according to a federal court.

In a much-watched case regarding the US Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to dictate water quality policy to states (specifically the Chesapeake Bay watershed states), the EPA’s authority has been upheld, over the objections of the American Farm Bureau, the National Association of Home Builders, and other stakeholders.

From coverage in the Baltimore Sun:

In a 60-page ruling, the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia brushed aside challenges from agricultural and home building groups to the “pollution diet” that EPA imposed for the bay in 2010.

“Congress made a judgment in the Clean Water Act that the states and the EPA could, working together, best allocate the benefits and burdens of lowering pollution,” Judge Thomas L. Ambro wrote for the three-judge panel that heard the appeal.

The federal agency, acting after more than 25 years of little or no cleanup progress, had set a “total maximum daily load” (TMDL) of nutrients and sediment washing into the Chesapeake from the six bay states and the District of Columbia. EPA set a deadline of 2025 for the states to adopt measures needed to reduce all sources of pollution, or face possible federal sanctions.

Read the full Sun coverage online.

Read the 60-page opinion online at the Third Circuit Court of Appeals website.

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties