Posted October 16, 2013
Farm and commodity groups have announced they will appeal a recent district court judge’s decision to uphold federal pollution limits in the Chesapeake Bay area, the nation’s largest estuary, according to Marc Levy of the Associated Press in an article available here
The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) have each filed a notice to appeal the September decision to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia. 
U.S. District Court Judge Sylvia Rambo ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can enforce Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) nutrient standards in six states and Washington D.C., which have waters flowing into the Chesapeake Bay.  Judge Rambo stated that the plaintiffs failed to meet the “heavy burden of showing that the issuance of the Bay TMDL was arbitrary and capricious and the EPA’s use of modeling data bore no rational relationship to the realities they purport to represent.”  Judge  Rambo also stated that the agreement between the EPA and the states did not violate the Clean Water Act because the states agreed and were given flexibility to decide how to meet the limits.  For more information on the District Court decision, a recent post from this blog is available here.
State and federal efforts to improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay date back to 1983 when the governors of Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, the mayor of Washington D.C. and the head of the EPA signed the first Chesapeake Bay Agreement.  In 2007, the EPA, six states, and Washington D.C. agreed to establish a pollution reduction program by 2011 and to reach the targeted limits by 2025. 
Confident that Judge Rambo’s decision will be upheld on appeal, Chesapeake Bay Foundation President William Baker said, “It is so disappointing that so much effort has to be spent in the court versus on cleaning up the bay and its rivers and streams.”
AFBF President Bob Stallman said, “This is a wrongly decided case that has dangerous implications for farmers and many others in the Chesapeake Bay area and nationwide,” according to an Agri-Pulse article available here.
NCGA President Martin Barbre said, “We continue to believe the policies and science behind the Chesapeake Bay TMDL are wrong and that it goes beyond the scope of Clean Water Act authority.  We hope the Third Circuit Court of Appeals will reconsider these arguments and ultimately provide state and local jurisdictions more flexibility to work with agriculture in meeting water quality goals.”


For more information on the Clean Water Act, please visit the National Agricultural Law Center’s website, here.