Environmental Groups Sue EPA Over Impaired Waters Designations

A Capital Gazette article (2016-03-09) reported that a coalition of six waterkeeper and environmental groups are suing the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over an EPA decision to remove 53 Maryland waterways from the impaired waters list. From the article:

Pollution doesn’t just originate in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay,” said Elizabeth Nicholas, executive director of Waterkeepers Chesapeake, in a statement. “We have to look at all the smaller creeks and streams that are suffering impaired water quality throughout the watershed.”

The lawsuit alleges that Maryland Department of the Environment, the state agency in charge of implementing the Clean Water Act, failed to provide timely notice of its decision to remove 53 waterways from the impaired waters list, robbing the public of an opportunity to comment. Because of this, the complaint states, the EPA’s approval of the state’s list was “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law.” …

The complainants are asking the court to declare the EPA’s approval of the state’s list “unlawful and arbitrary,” and set it aside.

The plaintiffs include nonprofit organizations from across the state: Blue Water Baltimore; the Chester River Association; the Gunpowder Riverkeeper in Monkton; the Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy in Easton; the Potomac Riverkeeper Network in Washington, D.C.; and Waterkeepers Chesapeake in Takoma Park.

The article also stated that EPA is reviewing the complaint but declined to comment on the pending litigation.

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