Farm group appeals Chesapeake Bay cleanup case to Supreme Court

The American Farm Bureau Federation and its allies are asking the Supreme Court to decide whether a federal pollution-reduction plan for the Chesapeake Bay is legal.

The case is appealing a lower court’s July ruling that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) acted within its authority when ordering states to limit certain farming and development within the Chesapeake’s watershed.

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“It’s about whether EPA has the power to override local decisions on what land can be farmed, where homes can be built, and where schools, hospitals, roads and communities can be developed,” Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman said in a Friday statement announcing the petition.

“This is nothing less than federal super-zoning authority. As much as we all support the goal of achieving a healthy Chesapeake Bay, we have to fight this particular process for getting there.”

The case has attracted attention far outside of the mid-Atlantic, with 21 states joining the fight stop the EPA from being able to take similar action elsewhere under the Clean Water Act.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation criticized the Farm Bureau for appealing.

“The agriculture and development industries need to accept that the Blueprint is the best hope for restoring water quality in local rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay,” foundation president William Baker said in a statement.

The EPA’s released its Chesapeake cleanup plan after decades of failure on the parts of state and federal governments to effectively protect the bay from pollution.

It’s the most extensive use yet of a Total Maximum Daily Load program by the EPA.