Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, and D.C. have jointly filed a lawsuit against the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for failing to protect the Chesapeake Bay and other local waterways.
The jurisdictions say that the EPA has failed to hold up the terms of a multi-state agreement to reduce pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. Primarily, these jurisdictions say that New York and Pennsylvania have failed to uphold their end of the bargain, and that the EPA has failed to follow-up with enforcement.
The Chesapeake Bay is a national treasure,” said Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh. “Restoring the health of the Bay will take a coordinated, comprehensive effort by each of the watershed states. EPA has walked away from its responsibility to regulate and manage the efforts of the Bay states. Today, we are asking the court to force EPA to do its job.”
The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States with a watershed that spans 64,000 square miles. The estuary includes rivers and streams in the District, Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.
The multi-state agreement is called the Chesapeake Bay Agreement and was enacted in 1983 in an effort to restore and protect the Bay. Further amendments were added in 2010 aimed at lowering pollution levels for the entire watershed.
Each locale submitted their plans to the EPA in 2019, and while most states are on track, the lawsuit alleges that Pennsylvania’s plan only meets 75% of its reduction target and New York just 64%.
D.C. says they have spent around $113 million to reduce pollution, monitor water quality, and improve water infrastructure to fulfill its commitment to the Agreement.
A massive construction project is underway in Virginia creating new tunnels and sewage pipes to stop the overflow of raw sewage into the Potomac River, which flows into the Chesapeake Bay.
The states say that the EPA has failed to require that Pennsylvania and New York submit new plans, nor threatened to take any action.
The Chesapeake Bay is one of Virginia’s most important natural treasures and we all have a role to play in protecting and restoring it,” said Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring. “The EPA must hold every partner equally accountable and make sure they uphold their portion of the Agreement, but Trump’s EPA shirked that responsibility and simply rubberstamped inadequate plans. I will not stand by and allow the EPA to ignore its enforcement obligations and erase decades of progress we have made to reduce pollution and restore the Chesapeake Bay.
The states say the EPA’s failure to act will cause excessive pollution to keep flowing from these states into the Bay and reduction goals of the Chesapeake Bay Agreement will not be met.
 Henney, E. (2020, September 10). Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, and DC sue EPA over Chesapeake Bay clean-up enforcement. ABC 7 WJLA. https://wjla.com/news/local/several-states-join-dc-in-suing-epa-over-chesapeake-bay-protections