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Herring, Other State AG’s Say They’ll Sue EPA Over Chesapeake Bay Pollution

view of a body of water
The Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement, signed in 2014, requires all states whose rivers drain into the bay to develop plans to reduce runoff pollution. (Photo: Holly Anne Cromer via shutterstock)

Attorney General Mark Herring announced Monday that he’ll  sue the Environmental Protection Agency if it doesn’t step up to protect the Chesapeake Bay from pollution.

Herring, along with attorneys general in Washington D.C. and Maryland, issued a notice of intent to sue that said the agency is legally required to ensure states along the bay develop pollution reduction plans that comply with the 2014 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement. But, they argue, Pennsylvania and New York’s plans don’t meet reduction goals outlined in that agreement.  

“The Trump EPA is rubber stamping plans that are plainly inadequate,” Herring said. “We must take action to stop the Trump administration from shirking its responsibilities.”

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation has filed a similar notice alongside the attorneys general.

“I've been working for CBF for over 40 years,” said President William Baker. “And I have never seen such a concerted effort to require the federal government to do its job to reduce Bay pollution.”

Baker said filing the notice of intent is a legal requirement of the Clean Water Act and the first step towards litigation. The EPA has 60 days to resolve the concerns before the attorneys general and the foundation foundation can sue.

Baker said the watershed agreement is clearly working and must be preserved.

“Pollution is down, crabs are rebounding, and the dead zone is getting smaller,” Baker said.

Dead zones are areas of the bay where aquatic animals suffocate and die from excessive nitrogen and phosphorus pollution and low amounts of oxygen.

 “EPA’s failure to hold Pennsylvania and New York accountable undermines the integrity of this historic federal-state partnership.”

A spokesperson for the EPA said in a statement that the claims were meritless and that the EPA has met all of its legal requirements with respect to the states’ pollution reduction plans.

“EPA has consistently provided the Bay States and the District with the resources and technical assistance they need to do the job and has maintained a steadfast commitment to meeting the TMDL’s (Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load) goals and targets,” the statement said.

The EPA also announced Monday additional funding to address nitrogen pollution in the Bay.