The Chesapeake Bay Foundation announced Monday its intention to sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for failing to enforce the Clean Water Act. Both Maryland and Virginia have already signaled interest in suing the EPA, with Maryland also targeting Pennsylvania for lagging behind in reaching their Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) goals.
The Foundation previously sued the EPA in 2009 alleging that the Agency was failing to enforce the Clean Water Act in the Chesapeake Bay region, leading to a settlement that included the current TMDL goals. When Pennsylvania released their latest plan to achieve their outlined goal, advocates said that is was $250-300 million underfunded, and recently Chesapeake Bay Program Director Dana Aunkst reportedly described TMDL targets as “aspirational.” In response both Maryland and Virginia are considering lawsuits against the Agency, and a bi-partisan group of legislators wrote to the EPA asking for clarification on whether they believe TMDL goals are enforceable. The EPA responded stating that the TMDL goals are not binding.
From a press release issued by the Foundation:
In response, CBF Vice President for Litigation Jon Mueller issued this statement:
“The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is preparing a Notice of Intent to Sue EPA for failing to enforce the Clean Water Act. We are currently in discussion with a range of potential partners concerning the legal strategies we can use to force EPA to comply with the law. For CBF, litigation is a last resort. However, with Bay restoration and clean water for future generations at risk, we have no alternative due to EPA’s failure to act. We must hold EPA accountable now if we are going to save the Bay.”
CBF President William C. Baker added:
“That EPA is abdicating its responsibility under the Clean Water Act is a tragedy. Failing to hold Pennsylvania accountable undermines the success we have seen in recent years. It is snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
“Agriculture is the largest source of pollution from Pennsylvania. While farmers and Conservation Districts have demonstrated their willingness to install practices that reduce pollution, the Commonwealth’s elected officials have failed to provide sufficient cost-share funding to achieve the goals that Pennsylvania has repeatedly promised to reach by 2025. If EPA does not fulfill its responsibilities to the region’s residents and the American public by holding the Commonwealth accountable, Pennsylvania’s local waters and the Bay downstream will never be saved.”