Multiple Groups Signal Intent to Sue EPA Over Bay Pollution

EPA is likely to face lawsuits from several groups arguing that the Agency has failed to hold individual states accountable for deficient Chesapeake Bay pollution reduction plans.

A coalition of State Attorneys General, and a group lead by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) that includes Anne Arundel County, announced today that they are filing notice of intent to sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The groups allege that under the federal Clean Water Act, EPA has a responsibility to ensure that states meet their 2025 pollution reduction goals.

In 2007, EPA and states in the Bay region established the Bay’s Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), the “pollution diet” that would require states to develop their own Watershed Implementation Plans (WIP) that would improve the water quality in the Bay over several phases. When Pennsylvania released their latest plan to achieve their outlined goal, advocates said that is was $250-300 million underfunded, and earlier this year, Chesapeake Bay Program Director Dana Aunkst reportedly described TMDL targets as “aspirational.” In an effort to force EPA to hold states with inadequate plans accountable, both the coalition and the group led by CBF have filed letters of intent to sue if EPA does not act within 60 days.

The coalition includes Attorneys General for Maryland, Virginia, and The District of Columbia.

From Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh’s press release:

“The Chesapeake Bay is one of our country’s most valuable natural resources,” said Attorney General Frosh. “Restoring the health of the Bay will take a coordinated, multistate effort with every state sharing the burden. EPA has abandoned its responsibility to regulate and manage the efforts of the Bay states. Together, we fully intend to hold EPA accountable and require it to perform its regulatory duty.”

The group led by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation includes Anne Arundel County, the Maryland Watermen’s Association, and a Virginia farmer.

From CBF’s press release:

“Anne Arundel County residents have invested far too much in the Chesapeake Bay restoration effort to watch from the sidelines as upstream states and the EPA abandon their obligations,” said Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman. “Since the federal government refuses to lead, placing our local economy, our residents, and our very way of life at risk, I must ask the courts to intervene and make them lead.”

Previous Coverage on Conduit Street:

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation to Sue the EPA

Congressional Letter Voices Concerns Over EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Cleanup Enforcement

Maryland Will Sue Pennsylvania to Protect Chesapeake Bay Restoration Efforts