Supreme Court denies hearing Farm Bureau's case against EPA

David Weissman
  • U.S. Supreme Court denies hearing for American Farm Bureau in case challenging legality of EPA plan.
  • AFB: "This lawsuit has ended, but the larger battle over the scope of EPA’s power is not over."
  • CBF: "We hope those who have opposed the (plan) will devote their time, expertise, and money ... to help save the bay."

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday denied The American Farm Bureau's request to hear a case challenging the legality of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Chesapeake Bay clean-up plan.

The American Farm Bureau Federation and its allies originally filed a suit in U.S. District Court and an appeal to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals against the Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Blueprint.

The blueprint is the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's reference to a combination of the Environmental Protection Agency's bay total maximum daily load (TMDL), established in 2010 to reduce water pollution, and subsequent watershed implementation plans (WIP) developed by each of the six watershed states and the District of Columbia to implement state-specific cleanup plans.

Pennsylvania is significantly behind in its goals, according to recent foundation reports.

Harry Campbell, executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Pennsylvania office, said their organization is still waiting on 2015 results to determine how much closer the state has gotten to its goals.

"What's clear is we can't continue to invest in the bay's clean-up efforts at our current level and expect to reach our goals," he said.

Campbell said he hoped the Supreme Court's decision would lead to positive momentum, with groups opposing the EPA's plan turning their attention to address the bay's issues.

Website tracks progress of Chesapeake Bay restoration

Ellen Steen, general counsel for the Farm Bureau, said the federation was "deeply disappointed" by the Supreme Court's decision.

"We continue to think what the EPA is doing is beyond its authority and bad policy," she said. "We had very much hoped they would grant us this review and believe if they had, the decision would've been reversed."

Steen previously said that the bureau wasn't asking the Supreme Court to invalidate the blueprint, but rather the limits the EPA placed on individual pollution sources.

Zippy Duvall, president of the bureau, released a statement: "We will closely monitor the agency’s actions in connection with the Bay blueprint, as well as any efforts to impose similar mandates in other areas. This lawsuit has ended, but the larger battle over the scope of EPA’s power is not over."

Steen said the federation's case for a hearing likely wasn't helped by the recent passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. She added that Scalia's passing was tragic for many more reasons.

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Chesapeake Bay Foundation President William Baker said, in a statement, that Monday was a historic day in their fight to clean up the bay.

"Everyone who cares about clean water can breathe easier now that the Supreme Court has let stand the lower court decision that Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint is perfectly legal under the federal Clean Water Act," Baker said. "Now that all of the legal challenges have been denied, we hope those who have opposed the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint will devote their time, expertise, and money to working with all of the clean water partners to help save the bay."

— Reach David Weissman at