Lessons from the Chesapeake Bay
What's finally working in the Chesapeake Bay -- enforceable limits on pollution -- is what we want for the Western basin of Lake Erie. That can come from Ohio, Michigan and Indiana voluntarily agreeing to limits that will bring Lake Erie back to health, or it can happen if the U.S. EPA steps in and makes the states do it. That's why ACLE supports a U.S. EPA "impaired" designation for all of Western Lake Erie and its watershed.
Opponents of that idea, like the Ohio Farm Bureau and its Big Ag allies, Ohio's governor and the Ohio EPA don't want concentrated animal feeding operations -- CAFOs or factory farms -- to be held accountable for the enormous amounts of manure dumped on the fields draining into our lake. So they continue to support voluntary reduction methods and goals with little to no accountability.
This failed, voluntary approach is what prevented a thorough cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay for nearly 30 years. They finally admitted they needed enforceable limits, or TMDLs -- Total Maximum Daily Loads -- and public reporting of what was or was not being done. As you can readily tell by going to some of these links, that approach is now working. The Bay is getting back to health.
The "Third Battle for Lake Erie" is the fight to do the same for our lake and its 11,000 sq. miles of watershed. Your involvement can make a difference. Read up. Contact us. Join in!
(click headline for The Chesapeake Bay Story link to story)
"The Farm Bureau and its fellow polluters were aghast. A region-wide TMDL would require farmers, home builders, and chicken, turkey and pig producers to suffer such indignities as keeping at least some of their vile effluent out of the public’s bay and tributaries"
"An unusual coalition of environmentalists, watermen and former officials yesterday filed suit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, asking a judge to overhaul the floundering government campaign to clean up the Chesapeake Bay."
"On May 12, 2009, President Barack Obama signed an Executive Order that recognizes the Chesapeake Bay as a national treasure and calls on the federal government to lead a renewed effort to restore and protect the nation’s largest estuary and its watershed."
"Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia and the District produced Watershed Implementation Plans to reduce the nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment that have troubled the Chesapeake's waters and "threatened the livelihoods of thousands of Marylanders and potentially thousands of new jobs," according to a report released Monday by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation."
"The complaint was filed by the American Farm Bureau Federation and one of its members, the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, in a federal court in Harrisburg. It says that the EPA's plan cannot be legally enforced because its methods of determining the bay's pollution from nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment are flawed."
"To understand why the 21 state AGs care about a cleanup plan that is, for the most part, outside of their boundaries, you first have to understand why outside groups are suing to strike down the cleanup plan in the first place. That comes down to the interests of one powerful entity: the U.S. agriculture industry."
"In addition to regulating point sources, non-point sources are also regulated under the CWA" (Clean Water Act). (pg.6)
"The CWA is an 'all-compassing' and 'comprehensive' statute that envisions a strong federal role for ensuring pollution reduction...Indeed, considering the numerous complexities of regulating an interstate water body, EPA’s role is critical to coordinating the Bay Jurisdictions’ efforts to ensure pollution reduction. In short, the court concludes that the framework established by the Bay Partnership in developing the Bay TMDL is consistent with the provisions of the CWA". (pg. 98)
"The plaintiffs in the case argued that the source- and sector-specific pollutant allocations and compliance timelines exceeded EPA’s authority under the Clean Water Act. The court disagreed, finding EPA’s inclusion of the contested TMDL elements to be a legitimate policy choice that was grounded in a reasonable interpretation of the Act. "
"As with climate change, the seeding of scientific doubt may be used to delay action in addressing the problem. But in this instance, we know beyond reasonable doubt the road we need to take to restore the Chesapeake Bay’s water quality."
"The Supreme Court has declined to hear a challenge to the Chesapeake Bay cleanup plan, the largest attempt by the federal government and states to rid the pollution from a body of water and to restore its health. The high court’s refusal ends an attempt by the American Farm Bureau Federation to stop the cleanup. The organization argued that the Environmental Protection Agency overstepped its authority in leading the effort because the bay can be managed only by the states that sit in its watershed."
"Thousands of farmers have been told repeatedly by the state's largest farm organization that hundreds of thousands of cropland may be forcibly retired by federal agencies as part of Chesapeake Bay Cleanup. Turns out, the warning may not be true after all, according to state and federal agencies involved in the cleanup."
"Why is the American Farm Bureau so concerned about the Chesapeake Bay? And why now? The farm lobby has made it clear it sees the cleanup effort as a harbinger of more far-reaching EPA requirements across the country, including in the Mississippi River basin, where chemical runoff from industrial farms is swept to the Gulf of Mexico. This pollution creates large swaths of low-oxygen areas known as dead zones, killing marine life."
"This first-ever analysis released by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) finds that the economic benefits provided by nature in the Chesapeake Bay watershed will total $130 billion annually when the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint is fully implemented."
Examples of real progress in the Chesapeake:
Between 2010 and 2015, 108 public access sites opened
In 2015, federal agencies invested over $515 million toward the goals of Executive Order 13508 with $487 million expected in 2016