Former MDE Secretary Criticizes Bay TMDL Appeal, Praises Maryland’s Efforts

A December 18 Blue Current blog post by former Maryland Secretary of the Environment Robert Summers offered his perspective on the Supreme Court legal challenge of the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) by the American Farm Bureau Federation and others. Blue Current is a water industry blog by KCI Technologies, Inc. In the blog post, Summers argued that the Bay TMDL was both needed and legally defensible:

The Bay restoration is important, not the least because the steps we take to restore and protect the Bay (or Lake Erie) also protect our groundwater, streams, rivers and reservoirs – our water supplies – the essential foundation of our health and economic well-being. …

The District Court and subsequently the Third Circuit Court of Appeals both strongly disagreed with the plaintiffs, and in their opinion, filed July 6, 2015, the Court of Appeals very clearly articulated why the TMDL is legally justified.

“Congress made a judgement in the Clean Water Act that the states and the EPA could, working together, best allocate the benefits and burdens of lowering pollution.  The Chesapeake Bay TMDL will require sacrifice by many, but that is a consequence  of the tremendous effort it will take to restore  health to the Bay – to make it once again a part of our “land of living,” Robert Frost, ‘The Gift Outright’ line  10 – a goal our elected representatives have repeatedly endorsed.  Farm Bureau’s arguments to the contrary are unpersuasive, and thus we affirm the careful and thorough opinion of the District Court.” [1]

[1] UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE THIRD CIRCUIT No. 13-4079,  Opinion filed: July 6, 2015

Summers also stated that most Maryland stakeholders, including farmers, have worked hard to meet the Bay TMDL goals:

Maryland municipal and county governments, businesses and farmers, recognizing the importance of a clean Bay and rivers to the state’s economy, embraced the program and collectively invested millions of dollars to match state and federal grants to upgrade wastewater treatment, improve stormwater management, develop and implement nutrient management plans and pollution control measures on farms, etc. …

Maryland state and local governments have been leading the Chesapeake Bay restoration effort….And, while the U.S. Farm Bureau has been filing its lawsuits, Maryland farmers have been hard at work controlling pollution to the Bay and its tributaries by following University of Maryland nutrient management guidelines, installing stream buffers and other best management practices to reduce erosion, properly manage animal manure and retain nutrients with winter cover crops.