Judge rules EPA can enforce nutrient standards

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A District Court judge has upheld that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to set and enforce Total Maximum Daily Load for the Chesapeake Bay. The case has implications for Midwestern farmers and ag retailers.

U.S. District Court Judge Sylvia Rambo in Harrisburg, ruled that EPA could impose nutrient standards on six states and Washington, D.C., that have waters that flow into Chesapeake Bay. Rambo rejected arguments that EPA had overstepped its bounds under the federal Clean Water Act, created an unfair process and used standards that were flawed or unlawfully complicated, the Associated Press reported.

The American Farm Bureau Federation, which originally filed the suit in 2011, issued a statement regarding the judge’s decision.

American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman issued the following statement regarding the court’s decision:

"The American Farm Bureau Federation is deeply disappointed with the district court's ruling upholding the Environmental Protection Agency's total maximum daily load for the Chesapeake Bay.

"We believe the ruling is incorrect and has huge implications for farmers and many others in the Bay area and nationwide.

"Win or lose in this lawsuit, farmers care deeply about our natural environment and want to do our part to improve water quality.

"But Congress did not authorize EPA to dictate how farmers, builders, homeowners, and towns would share the responsibility of achieving clean water. That is the states' job.

"We believe EPA's approach wrongly puts federal agency staff in charge of intensely local land use decisions.

"AFBF and our allies in this case are reviewing the decision and evaluating next steps."

AFBF was not alone in its lawsuit. Other industry groups that joined AFBF include the Fertilizer Institute, the National Pork Producers Council, the National Corn Growers Association, the National Chicken Council, the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association and the National Turkey Federation.

National Corn Growers Association President Pam Johnson released the following statement in response to the district court’s ruling upholding the Environmental Protection Agency’s Total Maximum Daily Load for the Chesapeake Bay:

 “The National Corn Growers Association is disappointed to hear the court’s decision to uphold the TMDL in the Chesapeake Bay.  We continue to believe the Chesapeake Bay TMDL goes beyond the scope of Clean Water Act authority and has a negative impact on agricultural production and innovation.

 “America’s farmers are the original environmentalists.  They care deeply about the land and water quality from which they make their livelihood and raise their families.  However, the policies and science behind the Chesapeake Bay TMDL are wrong.

 “NCGA and our agriculture partners are reviewing our options and next steps.”

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new york  |  September, 18, 2013 at 07:32 PM

Can't say I didn't warn you. EPA has also come out and said that the chesapeake bay watershed will be the template for all watersheds so if you think this will not effect you it is just wishful thinking.

Maryland  |  September, 19, 2013 at 08:22 AM

I guess if agriculture say it enough (Farmers are the Original environmentalists) they start to believe it. I have been in water quality and soil conservation for over 45 years. Farmers are like any business man; do whatever it takes to save time and money. Ag in the Bay watershed have a great more they should be doing to protect local stream quality.

NW Indiana  |  September, 19, 2013 at 08:33 AM

CleanStreams, -- government as a sense resistant bacteria, seeking a free living in a producing host.

Nebraska  |  September, 19, 2013 at 09:37 AM

CleanStreams- You are correct farmers are businessmen and as such they do not make it a practice of over using expensive inputs just so they can run off or leach. Best management practices are something that most (All I have met) Tax funded salary receivers think have to come from regulation. Sorry to tell you that simply is not the case. Try and make a living feeding the world instead of milking those who produce!

35640  |  September, 19, 2013 at 10:18 AM

The EPA is completely out of control and the biggest bunch of liars there is in our "Guber"ment. It is a total shame how much power these idiots now have. Did you know, they now have armed forces among them! Have these gun totting morons been properly vetted? I doubt it! With the Obambulating Manure Spreader's Administration, they now can do just about anything they want too. Just like the IRS and NSA and others they are thugs. God gave man dominion over everything He created and we certainly should be good Stuarts but not at the behest of a bunch of corrupt liars! I will not waste space here listing their lies....do your own research!!......but Global Warming Hoax is a good place to start. Fact is, EPA is operated by the Communist Party USA with one agenda....destroy our economy by what ever means available!!

Minnesota  |  September, 19, 2013 at 04:11 PM

As an ag retailer in the mississippi water shed this ruling is very important to me. If the EPA starts mandating best management practices it could have devistating reactions in the ag industry. It could totally change the way our business works. And with their pro green pro organic beleafs we can expect our nations crop production to drop meanings millions or billions around the world will have to starve. But maybe thats the real end game?

U.S  |  September, 20, 2013 at 08:14 AM

Do you really want government paid bureaucrats telling what and when to eat??? Really ???

Maryland  |  September, 20, 2013 at 08:49 AM

I'm not going to comment to the folks who replied to my 1st comment. I could never dumb down anything they would understand. I guess you all believe that farmers have some God-given, constitutional right to pollute our streams because they may need to slightly change their method of farming and spend a small amount of money. It not the Chesapeake Bay we should worry about; it is our local streams. What right do you have to pollute the water flowing downstream to your neighbor?!!

45849  |  September, 20, 2013 at 03:36 PM

Another Anti-American , anti-freedom, big headed, no brains socialist judge.

Maryland  |  September, 20, 2013 at 04:43 PM

Harold, Thank you I will wear that comment with proud.

roaringspring  |  September, 20, 2013 at 06:36 PM

What I think Cleanstreams cannot grasp is that it takes money to produce the food without polluting the steams. People such as that want the ultra low food prices ai, three dollars for a dozen eggs or four dollars for a gallon of milk. Yes with the very low cost of food we MUST cut corners, yes we farmers can produce with less pollution, all it takes is a fair price, how much are you willing to pay for those eggs and gallon of milk twenty or thirty dollars? I doubt you're brain dead you could be a socialist I don't know you , but I know it NEVER costs a small amount of money for anything the government imposes. Perhaps you sir should buy or rent a farm and see just how well the gross incompetence of rules from our government truly works. It's very easy to sit on your butt and do nothing but complaining, passing laws that have no affect on you.

new york  |  September, 20, 2013 at 07:20 PM

Cleanstreams I hope you realize that chobani is within this watershed. I wonder how long they will last in new york without a close supply of milk.

Maryland  |  September, 20, 2013 at 09:05 PM

How long will they last without a good supply of clean water. New York City has spent millions of dollars reimbursing NY farmers at 100% to install BMP's to protect NY City water supply. I expect John Q. Public to put up the money to assist int paying for these BMP's. But I guess that most of you hate and mistrust the government so badly but if you think the farmers are going to do this out of the kindness of their heart; you are sadly mistaken. Our farmers can receive 87.5% cost-shares to install BMP's. But many times they don't need expensive BMP's just apply a little old time common sense to how they farm.

Action Committee    
Minnesota  |  September, 21, 2013 at 08:55 PM

95 % of the cities in the US do NOT take out the phosphorous in the waste water. Until this is done there will be no clean Chesapeak Bay or reduction in hypoxia. Put the federal money where it is needed. Clean up the TREATMENT Plants. Manure is applied to the land and it is recycled. Untreated water sewage goes straight into the river or bay.

NY  |  September, 22, 2013 at 07:36 PM

At the risk of bringing out the fanatics---There are many exceptional farm managers, there are an equal number of arrogant farm managers who feel that they have no responsibility for at the very least maintaining an environmentally stable operation. Too bad they don't use their heads for something besides hatracks.

Kirk Williams    
NC  |  September, 24, 2013 at 08:35 PM

We have to accept the science that is driving the EPA's efforts. Current methods of crop production in this area makes nutrient loading contributions. And the EPA is involved because this is a multi-state regional matter. Once we accept the science and the involvement of the EPA, rather than rock throwing, let's be real patriots and step up to the table, utilize our ingenuity and determination, and solve the problem. There are workable solutions....continued inputs, yield maintenance, and environmental protection.... and let's all be pleased to witness the unified effort of a return in productivity of the waters of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

Minnesota  |  September, 25, 2013 at 06:09 PM

Farmers are already regulated by the Department of Agriculture, Farm Service Agency, National Resource Conservation Service, Department of Natural Resources, and now the Environmental Protection Agency. Regulation is nothing new to us! I just feel the policies and science behind the Chesapeake Bay TMDL are wrong. I am a farmer. Every farmer in my area has his/her own well for drinking water. We farmers know the importance of being good stewards of the land because we drink from our own wells. We eat the food off from our own land. We truly care about the health and well being of our families, as well as, all the other people we feed. It is not economical for us farmers to over-use insecticides and herbicides. If 2/3 of an ounce of herbicide per acre kills a weed, 4 ounces will not kill it deader! And the same goes with insects. Fertilizers are extremely expensive. There are economic thresholds when applying too much nitrogen is detrimental to our profit margins. Nearly all the farmers I know follow Best Manage Practices (BMPs) voluntarily because we don't want regulations forced upon us. As stated above, farmers are "businessmen". Today we are producing more food on less land using less water and fewer pesticides than ever before, thanks to technology, education, and agriculture research.

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