WASHINGTON — The American Farm Bureau Federation asked the
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit to reverse a September 2013 federal
court ruling that upheld the Environmental Protection Agency’s total maximum
daily load for the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
The court will decide whether EPA exceeded its Clean Water
Act authority by mandating how nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment runoff should
be allocated among farms, construction and development activities, as well as
homeowners and towns throughout the 64,000-square-mile Chesapeake Bay watershed.
“This case involves whether EPA can assume authority over
land use and water quality policy decisions that Congress specifically reserved
for state and local levels of government,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman.
“Last year the district court ruled that EPA can dictate how
and when states and localities must restrict land uses, even to the point of
banning development or demanding that specific areas be taken out of
“These are uniquely local decisions that should be made by
local governments,” Stallman said. ”That is why this power is specifically
withheld from EPA in the Clean Water Act.”
AFBF argued that the Clean Water Act divides authority
between EPA and the states, leaving the states in the driver’s seat to determine
how business owners and residents will share the costs and responsibility to
achieve clean water goals.
“Farmers, builders, homeowners and towns have made
significant changes to protect water quality in the bay, and the results are
just starting to come in,” Stallman said. “Farmers will continue to do their
part to improve water quality regardless of whether we win or lose this appeal.”
Farm Bureau’s goal with this litigation is to maintain an
important balance of power under the Clean Water Act that leaves states in
charge of the land and water resources within their borders.