Special Topics in Environmental Management

Supreme Court Declines to Hear Case Challenging TMDL Program

In a blow to the agricultural and land development sectors, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a case challenging EPA’s 2010 total maximum daily load (TMDL) program for the Chesapeake Bay. The case was launched in 2011 when the American Farm Bureau, the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, the National Association of Home Builders, and others asked a federal district court to vacate the TMDL.

After losing that case, the petitioners moved on to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, which ruled unanimously for the EPA. With the support of the industry associations, 22 states then asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the 3rd Circuit’s opinion.

Spanning 64,000 squares miles and covering parts of Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia, Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States. The EPA says that despite extensive restoration efforts and significant pollution reductions during the past 25 years, the need for the federal TMDL was prompted by insufficient progress by the states and continued poor water quality in the Bay and its tidal tributaries.

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