SCOTUS won’t take up challenge to Chesapeake cleanup plan

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The Supreme Court decided Monday not to take up a case challenging the Obama administration’s sweeping pollution control plan for the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

The decision means that a July ruling from the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit upholding the legality of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) program under the Clean Water Act will stand.

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The American Farm Bureau Federation and allies such as developers and other business interests had challenged the six-state cleanup plan, saying it exceeded the EPA’s authority.

Using a system Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), the EPA limited three key pollutants that are common in agriculture over the 64,000-square-mile watershed of the Chesapeake.

“EPA has promulgated a detailed federally driven scheme that looks nothing like the cooperative federalism specified by Congress in the act,” the Farm Bureau wrote to the high court.

The EPA said it was pleased with the Supreme Court’s rejection.

“We can now continue to build on the progress made in restoring local waters and the Bay,” spokeswoman Monica Lee said in a statement.

“While significant progress has been made, much more needs to be done and EPA remains committed to revitalizing this national treasure through the collaborative federal —state framework with the six Bay states and D.C.,” she said.

Environmental groups hailed the decision.

“This is a historic day for the bay,” said William Baker, president of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. “Everyone who cares about clean water can breathe easier now that the Supreme Court has let stand the lower court decision that Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint is perfectly legal under the federal Clean Water Act.”

The group is predicting that the area will experience $22 billion in benefits every year from the cleanup plan.

Jane Davenport, senior attorney at Defenders of Wildlife, said the court make the “right call,” and that the plan “will help restore the incredible economic and recreational benefits that a clean, healthy bay provides, and will ensure that the water and wildlife of the cay are protected.”

— This story was updated at 2:05 p.m.