Farm groups join to sue EPA over Chesapeake Bay Watershed action

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CAMP HILL, Pa. — Pennsylvania Farm Bureau has joined the American Farm Bureau Federation in a lawsuit in federal court against the Environmental Protection Agency for its implementation of a Total Maximum Daily Load in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

Basis

AFBF and PFB assert that the EPA exceeded its authority under the Clean Water Act to establish the TMDL and that the science used by EPA to create the model used to develop the TMDL is flawed.

The Clean Water Act requires a process that allows states, not EPA, to decide how to improve water quality and take into account the economic and social impacts on businesses and communities in the states.

“EPA’s action with the TMDL is an example of an excessive overreach by the federal agency. Aside from exceeding its authority, EPA has failed to account for many best management practices that significantly reduce runoff into Pennsylvania streams and the Chesapeake Bay.

“By ignoring the real amount of no-till farming and cover crops used by Pennsylvania farmers, EPA’s model underestimates the on-the-ground action taken by farmers and overestimates the amount of nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment coming from farms,” said PFB President Carl T. Shaffer.

Challenge

Farm Bureau emphasized that the lawsuit is not about reducing agriculture’s commitment to help restore the Chesapeake Bay, rather it’s about challenging EPA’s actions and attitude of having unlimited powers.

“Farmers have already played a major role in helping to improve water in Pennsylvania that flows into the Bay and will continue to do so regardless of the outcome of the lawsuit. In addition, farmers are working with the state Department of Environmental Protection on measures to enhance efforts to reduce runoff from farmland,” added Shaffer.

Another complaint

AFBF and PFB noted that EPA also violated the Administrative Procedures Act by failing to provide adequate time for the public to comment on its plan.

“The public had very little time to comment on such a complex, yet incomplete plan, even though it could have a devastating impact on communities within the Bay Watershed.

“The action could be especially troublesome for publically-embraced traditional family farms, which continually face the challenge of economic viability due to tight profit margins,” concluded Shaffer.

What is it?

The Total Maximum Daily Load recently established by the federal Environmental Protection Agency for the Chesapeake Bay Watershed indicates the maximum number of pounds of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment allowed in the waterway each year without causing a substantial impairment of water quality.

The TMDL consists of nutrient and sediment loads from waste water treatment plants, municipal storm water systems, certain animal production facilities, small septic systems and runoff from farms.

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