The president of the American Farm Bureau Federation announced plans to file a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over the recently-released Chesapeake Bay TMDL.
“EPA likes to call the new regulations a pollution diet, but this diet threatens to starve agriculture out of the entire 64,000 square-mile Chesapeake Bay watershed, and this new approach will not end with the bay," said Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. "EPA has already revealed its plan to take similar action in other watersheds across the nation, including the Mississippi River watershed."
Stallman said the Bay TMDL is part of a litany of EPA regulations, from water and dust, to greenhouse gases and endangered species, that has put agriculture in the crosshairs, at the very time agriculture’s environmental footprint is shrinking and productivity is on the rise, he asserted.
In reaction to the announcement, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation issued this statement--
“The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is extremely disappointed that the Farm Bureau has chosen to sue EPA rather than work together to help address pressing water pollution problems in the Chesapeake Bay, identified by Presidents from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama as a national treasure.
“This action by the Federation is not pro-farming action but anti-clean water. The TMDL process has been underway for years, considered agricultural interests repeatedly, and reflected changes due to their concerns. The choice to sue at this point is but another disappointing example of the Farm Bureau’s role as a high-powered lobbying group intent on misrepresenting the facts and frustrating the process of cleaning up the Bay and its rivers, contrary to the wishes of many of its members."
Matt Ehrhart, CBF Pennsylvania Executive Director added, “Many of the agricultural improvements identified in the Pennsylvania Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) involve moving farmers toward compliance with existing state water quality laws. Pennsylvania has approximately 40,000 farms in the Bay watershed, but only about half are fully compliant. The Bay TMDL is a positive step forward for farmers that will bring everyone into compliance, create a level field, and encourage profitability by improved farm management, conservation, and innovation.”
CBF went to say--
“CBF has repeatedly reached out to the farming community to address areas of mutual interest. Clean water is important to farmers, their families, and their livestock. Litigation will be long and costly for all involved and will likely do nothing but frustrate progress – perhaps the Farm Bureau’s real intent, in spite of rhetoric saying they support clean water.
“Many farmers have embraced practices that will address water pollution. They, along with sportsmen and sportswomen, see benefits to local streams and their own well water, as well as the Bay downstream. Furthermore, many of these practices also improve the farm’s bottom line.
“Reducing pollution to meet the Bay’s pollution diet will require all to do their part. The Farm Bureau argues that the TMDL is inequitable; however their lawsuit is an attempt to evade their responsibility and shift additional obligations to reduce pollution to sewage treatment plant ratepayers and urban and suburban jurisdictions.
“Perhaps the Farm Bureau sees a need to fight government for some internal political reason. Perhaps this has nothing to do with good agronomic practices. If so, that is truly a sad statement about the self appointed leadership of a sector of society which calls itself the original environmentalists.
“CBF will review the pleading and consider intervening in the case.”
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