Energy & Environment

Mid-Atlantic states sue EPA over Chesapeake Bay pollution

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A coalition of mid-Atlantic states is suing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), arguing it hasn’t done enough to protect the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay.

The suit from Virginia, Maryland and Delaware, along with Washington, D.C., argues the EPA hasn’t met its obligations under the Clean Water Act to ensure Pennsylvania and New York met requirements to protect the bay.

Another suit from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation was filed concurrently.

“Restoring the health of the Bay will take a coordinated, comprehensive effort by each of the watershed states. EPA has walked away from its responsibility to regulate and manage the efforts of the bay states. Today, we are asking the court to force EPA to do its job,” Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh said in a release.

The 2014 Chesapeake Bay Agreement requires states in the bay’s watershed to reduce their nitrogen and phosphorus pollution, as well as sediment by 2025. The bay is the largest estuary in the United States, served by more than 150 rivers and streams from six states.

The suit claims EPA has not required Pennsylvania or New York to develop or implement plans that fully meet the pollution reduction goals. 

“A healthy Chesapeake Bay is crucial to both the health of Maryland’s economy and our environment.” Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said in a release. 

“We know that some of our regional partners are falling behind, and yet the EPA has failed to bring them into compliance. Given the EPA’s lack of effective action, this lawsuit is necessary to hold both the EPA and other states accountable to meeting their obligations to protect the bay.”

Attorney general offices in New York and Pennsylvania both declined to comment.

The EPA, however, defended its work.

“EPA is fully committed to working with our Bay Program partners to meet the 2025 goals. We have taken and will continue to take appropriate actions under our Clean Water Act authorities to improve Chesapeake Bay water quality. In the past year alone, EPA and its federal partners have provided nearly a half billion dollars to support Bay watershed restoration activities, and EPA has delivered thousands of hours of technical assistance to the states, as well as comprehensive reviews of state implementation plans and progress forecasts to identify strengths and weaknesses,” the agency said in a statement.

Updated at 4:27 p.m.

Tags Chesapeake Bay Chris Van Hollen Delaware EPA Lawsuit Maryland Virginia Watershed

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