Bay Foundation puts lawsuit against EPA on hold
This week the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) and its co-plaintiffs agreed to stay, or put on hold, the lawsuit filed to force the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take action to reduce pollution from all sources sufficiently to have the Chesapeake Bay removed from the nation’s impaired waters list. Following the filing, CBF president William C. Baker issued the following statement:
“In October of last year we notified EPA of our intent to sue and EPA did nothing. When we filed the lawsuit in January we called for accountability, measurement, and serious consequences if pollution was not reduced. At the January announcement, I noted that the Bay is a national treasure, and that with a new administration there was hope for change.
“In May, President Obama issued an Executive Order calling the Bay a national treasure, acknowledging EPA’s leadership role, and outlining a process to develop a coordinated strategy to ensure pollution is reduced. Since then EPA has begun to step up to the plate.
“In September, the federal government issued seven reports, as called for in the Executive Order, that outline options EPA and other federal agencies may undertake to save the Bay. Among them, EPA committed to taking a leadership role, holding itself and the states accountable for specific actions and imposing serious penalties if pollution is not reduced.
“The draft reports recommend many of the actions CBF identified as necessary to resolve our lawsuit. In some cases, the reports do not go far enough and CBF will press for improvements in the draft restoration strategy that will be released for public comment in November. The strategy will be finalized in May.
“As many actions that should be included in a final settlement may not be resolved until EPA has completed the notice and comment process and issued the final strategy in May, a stay is appropriate. We believe that EPA’s restoration strategy can provide a basis for more-detailed negotiations that will require firm commitments and hard deadlines for actions. If, during negotiations we do not believe that EPA is making the necessary commitments, the stay order allows us to reinstate our suit and proceed with litigation.
“We will know in the next few months whether EPA means what it has said, or whether the only solution is to continue our litigation.”