Judge upholds EPA authority to set pollution limits for Chesapeake Bay

Sep 17, 2013, 11:42 ET from PennFuture

Major victory affirms that long-delayed science-based plan can now move forward

HARRISBURG, Pa., Sept. 17, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In a major victory for the health of local waterways, a federal judge ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has the authority to set limits on pollution entering the Chesapeake Bay. The decision by U.S. District Court Judge Sylvia Rambo on September 13 affirmed that the pollution limits established by EPA under the Clean Water Act, referred to as a Total Maximum Daily Load or TMDL, are within the Agency's authority and based on sound science.

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In 2011, large agricultural interests filed suit in an effort to overturn the Bay pollution limits, arguing the EPA lacked authority to develop the multi-state plan, and that the data and models used by the EPA were flawed. PennFuture was part of a coalition of public interest groups that joined the lawsuit to help defend the EPA's cleanup plan and the decades-long, collaborative process that led to its development.

"This is a major win for the continued improvement of waterways used by millions," said Jim Abernathy, interim president and chief executive officer of PennFuture. "It's also important for Pennsylvanians who recreate and live along the Susquehanna River and the many streams in our state, and for the health of our fish and wildlife. We are gratified that the court has upheld the EPA's authority on this science-based plan to clean up polluted rivers and streams in the Keystone State, and the Chesapeake Bay."

For over a decade, PennFuture has worked hand-in-hand on clean water issues with local watershed groups, fishing organizations, land conservancies and landowners by providing outreach, education and legal representation.

PennFuture is a statewide public interest membership organization, founded in 1998 and with offices in Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Wilkes-Barre. PennFuture's activities include litigating cases before regulatory bodies and in local, state, and federal courts; advocating and advancing legislative action on a state and federal level; public education; and assisting citizens in public advocacy.

The Philadelphia Inquirer called PennFuture the "state's leading environmental advocacy organization;" the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette named the organization "one of the 10 most influential groups on the issue of natural gas drilling;" and StateImpact Pennsylvania, an online collaboration of NPR stations across the state, called PennFuture "the commonwealth's main environmental advocate."

Contact: Elaine Labalme labalme@pennfuture.org

SOURCE PennFuture