Courtesy of Chesapeake Bay Program
Courtesy of Chesapeake Bay Program

The attorneys general in Virginia, Maryland and D.C. plan to sue the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for failing to require two nearby states to implement plans to cut pollution in the Chesapeake Bay and local waters, including the Potomac River.

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh and Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring issued the notice with D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine on Monday, May 18, alleging the EPA has not demanded Pennsylvania and New York develop plans to achieve 2025 restoration goals as required to reduce pollution levels under the Clean Water Act.

This comes as the Chesapeake Bay’s health dropped from a C to a C minus last year in an annual report from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.

“Our coalition of state attorneys general will not allow the EPA to walk away from its enforcement obligations and undermine decades of work to reduce pollution across the Chesapeake Bay watershed,” Racine said. “The District is committed to reaching our pollution reduction goals, but if other states are not doing their part, and the EPA is not keeping watch, we will fail to restore the Bay and our local waters, including the Potomac River.”

Racine said the EPA’s failure to require New York and Pennsylvania to develop and implement adequate plans has placed additional burdens on the other states in the agreement.

In 1983, D.C., Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, the Chesapeake Bay Commission and the EPA signed the Chesapeake Bay Agreement — the first multi-state effort to restore the bay. In 2010, the EPA and the watershed states agreed to and began implementing an overall plan which aimed to restore the bay by 2025.

“Protecting and restoring the Chesapeake Bay requires a comprehensive effort by each of the watershed states as well as the EPA,” Herring said. “As the administrator of the Chesapeake Bay Agreement, the EPA must treat each of the partners equally and make sure every state is pulling its weight and upholding its portion of the agreement, but instead, the Trump EPA simply rubber-stamped plans that are plainly inadequate.”

The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the U.S., and home to thousands of plant and animal species. The bay’s watershed spans 64,000 square miles and includes rivers and streams in the District, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York and West Virginia.

The attorneys general said efforts to protect the bay are uniquely challenging because water from each of those states flows into it, bringing significant amounts of harmful pollution with it. To ensure states would reduce pollution to agreed-upon levels, the EPA required them to develop and implement plans to achieve their specific pollution reduction goals.

The final phase of each state’s plans were submitted to the EPA in August. The agency determined that Pennsylvania’s plan would only meet 75 percent of its reduction target and New York’s plan would only meet 64 percent.

The attorneys general said despite this, the EPA has not required these states to prepare new plans.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said the agency believes the claim has no merit, The Associated Press reported.

“The Chesapeake Bay is one of our country’s most valuable natural resources,” Frosh said. “Restoring the health of the bay will take a coordinated, multi-state effort with every state sharing the burden. The EPA has abandoned its responsibility to regulate and manage the efforts of the bay states and together, we fully intend to hold the EPA accountable and not allow it to step away from its regulatory duty.”

Did you like this story?
Would you like to receive articles like this in your inbox? Free!

Sarafina Wright –Washington Informer Staff Writer

Sarafina Wright is a staff writer at the Washington Informer where she covers business, community events, education, health and politics. She also serves as the editor-in-chief of the WI Bridge, the Informer’s...

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *