BALTIMORE (WJZ/AP) — The attorneys general of Maryland, Washington, D.C., Delaware and Virginia have sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, accusing it of not requiring Pennsylvania and New York to develop sufficient plans to reduce Chesapeake Bay pollution.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, accuses the EPA of allowing Pennsylvania and New York to submit pollution reduction plans that don’t meet goals outlined in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement.
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Neither state’s current plans reduce the amount of nitrogen that ends up in the bay to the target level. Pennsylvania’s also does not meet phosphorus reduction goals, according to the lawsuit.
The so-called “pollution diet” sets limits in the bay for nitrogen and phosphorous as well as sediment. Much of that pollution comes from runoff from farms and cities and leads to oxygen dead zones that curtail animal and plant life.
If the EPA doesn’t make sure those goals are met, the attorneys general argue, the bay’s health could be jeopardized.
In a statement Thursday, Gov. Larry Hogan expressed support for the move:
“Earlier this year, I directed the Attorney General to take this legal action in keeping with our generational responsibility and shared obligation to enhance, protect, and restore the Chesapeake Bay. The Bay is a national treasure, and our administration has committed an historic $5 billion toward its restoration. We will continue to work together across state and party lines—holding everyone to account—to meet our restoration goals and obligations.”
Sen. Chris Van Hollen also issued a statement in support of the lawsuit, calling it “necessary to hold both the EPA and other states accountable to meeting their obligations to protect the Bay.”
In May, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., announced they planned to sue the agency over the issue. In January, the Maryland-based Chesapeake Bay Foundation announced plans to file a similar suit. The group also filed its lawsuit on Thursday.
“This is the moment in time for the Chesapeake Bay,” William C. Baker, the foundation’s president, said during a conference call with reporters. “This is the time for America to show that it can save a national treasure that is polluted.”
The EPA said in a statement Thursday that it is “fully committed to working with our Bay Program partners to meet the 2025 goals.”
“We have taken and will continue to take appropriate actions under our Clean Water Act authorities to improve Chesapeake Bay water quality,” the EPA said.
New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation said in a statement that the Empire State “is now on track to exceed our commitment to implement a pollution reduction program for the Chesapeake through 2025.”
The state agency also claimed that “Chesapeake Bay pollution is not from New York.”
“EPA monitoring data confirms that if the quality of the water in Chesapeake Bay were as good as the water quality in New York’s portion of the Susquehanna River, the Chesapeake would not be impaired for nitrogen, phosphorus, or sediment,” the agency stated.
Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection did not immediately respond with a comment regarding the lawsuit.
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