April 23, 2012
CBF and Partners Call on Court
to Dismiss Bay Clean-up Lawsuit
(HARRISBURG, PA)—The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) and its partners have called on Pennsylvania federal court Judge Sylvia Rambo to dismiss a lawsuit filed by agricultural and home building lobbyists who are seeking to abolish scientifically developed limits on pollution that is destroying the Chesapeake Bay.
"The Fertilizer Institute, the National Chicken Council, the National Pork Producers, the National Association of Homebuilders, and other national organizations are seeking to maximize the economic interests of a few at the expense of all whose health and economic survival depends on the water quality of local rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay," said CBF President William C. Baker. "Their arguments, however, are sorely lacking in both legal and factual basis. We have asked the court to dismiss the suit and uphold the last and best chance to restore this national treasure."
As a result of pollution, the Chesapeake Bay is on the Clean Waters Act's impaired waters list. Jobs have been lost, habitat destroyed, and human health is at risk. While some progress has been made, there is still a long way to go.
After decades of failed efforts to reduce pollution sufficiently to restore the Chesapeake Bay, in 2010 EPA used its authority to establish pollution limits for the Chesapeake Bay. The Bay states and the District of Columbia then developed individual blueprints for reducing pollution to the hundreds of rivers and streams that feed it.
The lawsuit contends that EPA did not have the authority to issue the pollution limits, that the public was not granted sufficient opportunity to review and comment, and that the limits are based upon flawed computer modeling and input data.
EPA's obligation to develop the pollution limits is established by statute, interstate compacts, judicial consent decrees, a binding settlement agreement, and an Executive Order. In fulfilling that obligation, EPA held hundreds public meetings throughout the watershed to discuss development of the pollution limits and to hear public concerns. Finally, in a letter that assessed the use of the Bay models to develop the limits, leading Bay scientists stated that, 'In our judgment, the consensus of the scientific community is that they are both useful and adequate for these purposes.'
"The Bay's clean-up plan is critical to ensuring that future generations can enjoy a healthy Bay that is abundant with wildlife," says Jim Murphy, Senior Counsel with the National Wildlife Federation. "The Clean Water Act mandates an end to pollution in the Bay, not that this plan be undone or weakened to accommodate polluters."
Reducing pollution in the Chesapeake and its rivers and streams will support the increasing number of crabs, and allow for abundant fish and oyster populations. Economic studies have shown repeatedly that sound environmental policies and a strong economy go hand in hand.
"EPA's pollution limits and the blueprints developed by the states are the best chance to restore the Bay," Baker said. "Saving the Bay and restoring local rivers and streams will benefit our children and future generations. If we don't succeed we will continue to have polluted water, human health hazards, and lost jobs – at a huge cost to society."
CBF's partners in calling for the dismissal of the lawsuit include the National Wildlife Federation, Defenders of Wildlife represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center, Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future, the Jefferson County Public Service District, and the Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy.