Thursday, March 10, 2016

Keepers Sue EPA to Keep Chesapeake Rivers Dirty

Waterkeepers: Removal of waterways from federal pollution rules may violate Clean Water Act
The Environmental Protection Agency may have broken federal law by removing dozens of Maryland waterways from its impaired water list, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday.

Six area waterkeeping organizations allege the EPA violated the Clean Water Act when officials excused 53 river segments — some in Anne Arundel County — from "total maximum daily load" requirements in 2012, according to the lawsuit filed in federal district court in Washington, D.C.

The lawsuit alleges that Maryland Department of the Environment, the state agency in charge of implementing the Clean Water Act, failed to provide timely notice of its decision to remove 53 waterways from the impaired waters list, robbing the public of an opportunity to comment. Because of this, the complaint states, the EPA's approval of the state's list was "arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law."

The complaint alleges the removal of the waterways from the impaired waters list leaves them without total maximum daily load limits for nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment, and also deprives the public of "an essential tool for independently verifying that their local waters are meeting the water quality standards mandated by the Clean Water Act."
I don't really know the reasons behind the delisting of the various river segments, but if I had to hazard a guess or two, I would suspect that the EPA thinks that these area are about as clean as they can expect to be given the waters that flow into them, and/or they don't really have the money/staff to pay any more attention to them.

When you're job depends on having the Chesapeake Bay be declared polluted, any move to rule part of the Bay "good enough" is an existential threat.

I think it's a little ironic for the River keepers to be suing the EPA for arbitrary, capricious acts and abusing their discretion. If it's successful, other people might want to get in on that action.

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