The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, three bay states and the District of Columbia sued the Environmental Protection Agency Thursday, charging it has failed to enforce the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint.
The blueprint, signed in 2010, is the latest in a series of pacts dating from 1983 in which five states in the bay watershed—Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York and Delaware—and the District of Columbia agreed to develop and implement plans to reduce pollution.
EPA’s evaluations of the New York and Pennsylvania plans show that neither one is adequate to meet the goals set for 2025, yet the agency approved them.
Will Baker, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation president, said in a virtual news conference the 2010 agreement requires EPA to impose consequences on states that fail the meet the goals.
“EPA has not only refused to enforce the blueprint, but it has rolled back fundamental federal water and air protection,” he said.
If the agency doesn’t hold those states accountable, the blueprint would be “yet another in a series of failed bay restoration agreements” and a “slap in the face to all who have worked diligently to achieve their commitments by the deadline.”
The bay foundation was joined in its suit, filed in federal court in the District of Columbia, by Anne Arundel County, Maryland, the Maryland Watermen’s Association and Robert Whitescarver and Jeanne Hoffman, who operate a livestock farm in Virginia.
The attorneys general of Maryland, Virginia, Delaware and the District of Columbia filed a separate suit in the same court.
Baker said he expects the suits to be combined.
Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh said the state, its citizens and businesses have invested billions of dollars to restore the health of the Chesapeake Bay, but every state in the bay’s watershed needs to do its part. And the EPA, under the law, is required to make sure that happens.
“What we’re asking for in our lawsuit is very simple,” Frosh said. “We want EPA to do its job.”
An EPA spokesman said in an email the agency has taken and will continue to take “appropriate actions under our Clean Water Act authorities to improve Chesapeake Bay water quality.to improve the bay’s water quality.”
He said 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.”