Settlement Reached in EPA Lawsuit over Pennsylvania Clean Water Enforcement

The EPA settled a lawsuit with Maryland, Anne Arundel, CBF, and others over the agency’s enforcement of pollution reduction efforts in Pennsylvania. 

In a court filing last week, EPA and plaintiffs asked for the dismissal of a 2020 lawsuit in which plaintiffs claimed EPA violated the Clean Water Act by failing to hold Pennsylvania accountable for not meeting commitments to reduce pollution to the Chesapeake Bay.

On July 10, all the parties executed the final settlement agreement resolving all claims brought by the plaintiffs.

The plaintiffs include five governmental parties (Delaware, D.C., Maryland, Virginia, and Anne Arundel Co., MD), two citizens groups (Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Maryland Watermen’s Association), and two individual plaintiffs who own livestock in Virginia (Robert Whitescarver and Jeanne Hoffman).

The settlement will require EPA to help Pennsylvania focus on reducing pollution from agriculture and stormwater runoff – two of the state’s biggest sources of Bay pollution. The EPA has also committed to increasing enforcement and compliance measures.

According to Maryland Matters:

“This settlement addresses some of the most severe agricultural pollution problems by targeting efforts toward Pennsylvania counties where the need is greatest,” Chesapeake Bay Foundation President and CEO Hilary Harp Falk said in a Wednesday statement. “…We look forward to working with EPA, Pennsylvania’s farming community, conservation organizations, and government officials as the Commonwealth, and all the states, seek to fulfill their commitments to clean water.”

According to EPA:

“This settlement closes a chapter of division and allows EPA, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and other parties involved to continue giving our full attention to the work needed to accelerate restoration of the Chesapeake Bay and its vast watershed.  We’re all in this together and, thanks to the Biden Administration, will seize the momentum we have with unprecedented funding going to Pennsylvania and other Bay states and building on the strong partnership we now have with Pennsylvania’s agricultural leaders and farming community.   The opportunities in front of us set the Chesapeake Bay Program partnership up for success as we emerge stronger in this next chapter.” – EPA Regional Administrator Adam Ortiz

This settlement closes the latest chapter of the multijurisdictional effort to clean and protect the Chesapeake Bay. For four decades, Maryland has joined with the federal government, Delaware, New York, Virginia, Washington D.C., and West Virginia in this effort. While it is unlikely the collective watershed will meet its 2025 targets for bay restoration, the situation is improving, and this new settlement will further push progress.

Read the full story. 

Read the EPAs statement.