Monday, May 15, 2023

EPA Settles With CBF, Promises to Put Pennsylvania on the 'Bay Diet'

At PA State Impact, EPA reaches settlement over Pa. pollution to Chesapeake Bay

Federal environmental regulators are agreeing to work harder to stop pollution from flowing out of Pennsylvania to the Chesapeake Bay.

It’s the result of a 2020 lawsuit brought by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation as well as Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC. The suit claimed the EPA violated the Clean Water Act by letting Pennsylvania move forward with inadequate plans.

Pennsylvania has been lagging behind other bay states in meeting clean-up goals set for 2025.

Under the settlement, EPA must use existing authority to investigate farming and urban stormwater issues, help the state clean up those areas, and issue penalties where appropriate. EPA must also post all findings online.

“This settlement agreement really puts things in writing and makes sure that we have clear deadlines, and so we think that that makes it a significant moment today,” CBF President Hilary Falk said during a news conference Thursday.

Pennsylvania is not a part of the settlement agreement.

Jon Mueller, the foundation’s Vice President for Litigation, said the EPA already has the authority to carry out the actions listed in the agreement.

“Whether that all comes true, we don’t know. But we believe that there are mechanisms built into this agreement that requires EPA to report to us–and the public–so that we can monitor its progress,” Mueller said.

Mueller said they can go back to court if they feel EPA is not meeting its commitments.

EPA voluntarily stepped up oversight in Pennsylvania last year.

The state has updated its most recent clean up plan three times, but each version has failed to meet the commonwealth’s pollution reduction goal.

This is, of course, a case of sue and settle

Sue and settle (sometimes hyphenated as sue-and-settle) is a term used to describe cases in which a federal agency is sued by an interested party, declines to defend itself in court, and negotiates a settlement with the plaintiff in a non-adversarial process. Through sue and settle, outside groups sue an agency in order to reach a settlement on terms favorable to the regulatory goals of both. These settlements may require the agency to issue a rule on a particular subject or within a certain timeline.

You have only to look at map to see why Pennsylvania has only minor interest in cleaning up the Bay, they have no shoreline on the Bay. Why would they spend their money, and hurt their farmers to help the downstream states? I guess I still don't see the leverage EPA has over Pennsylvania to make them.

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