A federal judge on Friday upheld the Environmental Protection Agency’s sweeping plan to limit pollution in the Chesapeake Bay, derailing the farm lobby’s attempt to stop one of the largest efforts to clean a waterway in the nation’s history.
In a long-awaited decision, U.S. District Court Judge Sylvia H. Rambo wrote that “the ecological and economic importance of the Chesapeake Bay is well documented” and that the EPA is within its rights under the Clean Water Act to partner with the six states in the bay watershed to cut the pollution that pours in from sewers and construction developments, and particularly chemical and biological waste from farms
States also were required to find ways to stop agricultural runoff from cattle feed operations, chicken houses and other farms. That resulted in plans for fences to prevent cattle from wading into streams, sheds to store animal waste and other conservation upgrades that many farmers said they could not afford.Farmers are being blamed, and probably reasonably fairly, for a large portion of the nutrient pollution that troubles the bay. They suspect, and probably reasonably, that in the bay diet, they will asked to make a disproportionate share of the cost of the clean up without much assistance while the other major polluters, the cities and counties, via sewage and stormwater runoff will receive considerable federal aid.
The American Farm Bureau Federation filed a lawsuit in early 2011 at the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania to stop the EPA. Numerous organizations — including the Fertilizer Institute, National Pork Producers Council and National Chicken Council — joined the suit.