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Arguments Heard in Chesapeake Bay Case

Oral arguments were heard on October 4th in Federal District Court in Harrisburg in the lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) brought by the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), Pennsylvania Farm Bureau (PFB) and other agriculture organizations.  The agriculture plaintiffs are challenging EPA’s authority to direct how states achieve water pollution reductions in the Chesapeake Bay through use of a “Total Maximum Daily Load” (TMDL). Attorneys for AFBF and other agriculture groups argued the federal Clean Water Act gives states, not the federal government, the power to decide how pollution reduction in the Bay will be done among the state’s landowners businesses and communities. Attorneys for the agriculture plaintiffs also argued that the Chesapeake Bay Model used by EPA to support its TMDL is illegally flawed, and that EPA failed to provide sufficient information on the Model during the public comment period that the law requires to be given allow those affected by the TMDL to adequately comment on it.  More than 20 Pennsylvania farmers, as well as staff from several state Farm Bureau organizations within the watershed, attended the court session to show their support for the legal challenge. The lawsuit was initially filed against EPA in January 2011, shortly after the agency issued its TMDL for the Bay.