The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania heard oral arguments Thursday Oct. 4 in the case of American Farm Bureau v. EPA.
The case challenges the Environmental Protection Agency's Total Maximum Daily Load for nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment in the Chesapeake Bay.
The National Corn Growers Association joined the suit last year with the American Farm Bureau Federation and other agricultural organizations.
“This lawsuit is extremely important to America’s farmers because the outcome could affect EPA’s future handling of water quality regulations throughout the country,” NCGA First Vice-President Martin Barbre said. “As farmers, we are stewards of the land who are committed to preserving water quality. However, we expect that EPA’s regulations should be reasonable and follow the guidelines established by Congress.”
Throughout the day, three main arguments were outlined by the farm groups’ attorneys. First, the Chesapeake Bay TMDL goes beyond the scope of Clean Water Act authority by assigning pollutant loading allocations among individual sources. Second, the science used by the Agency is flawed and the regulatory process lacked transparency. Finally, the TMDL was enacted without providing adequate time and information for compliance under the Administrative Procedure Act.
A ruling date on the case is not known, but due to the complexity of the arguments, the judge clearly stated a decision is not imminent.
(For background, see Farm Bureau suit heats Chesapeake Bay battle. You might also be interested in what local farmers are doing to keep the Bay clean. That can be found here. For potential impact on farming across the country, see Chesapeake Bay cleanup a threat to U.S. farming).