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February 2014

21 State Attorneys General Oppose Chesapeake Bay Pollution Limits

21statesWe’re not in Kansas anymore. We’re on the Chesapeake Bay.

Which is why it is puzzling that Kansas Attorney General Dereck Schmidt has led 20 other state Attorneys General, mostly from farming states in the Midwest and South, in backing the American Farm Bureau Federation’s legal efforts to overturn pollution limits for the Chesapeake Bay.

The 21 state Attorneys General yesterday filed a brief to support the Farm Bureau and other agriculture and development lobbying groups in their appeal of a federal judge’s decision on September 14 to uphold EPA’s pollution limits for the nation’s largest estuary.

In a press release about his amicus (or "friend of the court") brief, Schmidt explained that he’s afraid that EPA will “do the same thing along the Mississippi River basin.” In other words, he is afraid the federally-mandated cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay will become a model for waterways across the nation. What they fear is that states will be held accountable for controlling the total amount of runoff pollution from farms and urban areas that they allow into their own streams and rivers.

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Proposed New Bay Agreement Moves Backward on Toxic Pollution

Krista Schlyer ILCPThe more than 30-year-old regional partnership of governments called the Chesapeake Bay Program recently released a proposed new draft agreement for improving the estuary’s health.

Two previous Chesapeake Bay agreements, in 1987 and 2000, resulted in some improvements to water quality in the Bay and its tributaries.  But overall, the state governments in the region and Washington, D.C., fell far short of the goals in those agreements.  As a result, in December 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency stepped in and issued pollution limits for the Chesapeake Bay and warned of financial consequences to the state governments and D.C. if they did not implement programs by 2025 to restore the Bay to health.  The states then issued plans to meet these limits called the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint

CBF Vice President for Environmental Protection and Restoration Kim Coble said there are some things to celebrate in the proposed new Bay agreement, such as the fact that it holds states accountable to the Clean Water Blueprint.  But she added that the new draft agreement is “shortsighted” in that it eliminates an important goal in the last agreement: to reduce toxic pollutants in the Bay, such as mercury.  “CBF is shocked that the new draft Agreement contains no specific goals to reduce toxic contamination,” Coble said.

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