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EPA Goes After Low-Income Farmers In Land Grab
The Supreme Court says the Clean Water Act is not a grant of federal control over every stream and depression in the nation. The Environmental Protection Agency says otherwise.
February 11, 2016 By Blake Hurst
Pendleton County, West Virginia, is home to 540 farms. The average farm in the county has a net income of around $45,000 a year. On either coast, that’s not an impressive income, but those farms are important to Pendleton County, where the median household income is $30,429.
At least some of those EPA employees have been thinking about farms in Pendleton County. The county is in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and, consequently, in the crosshairs of a massive and detailed EPA blueprint to alter the waters of the bay. The plan, an outgrowth of an executive order President Obama signed shortly after taking office, divides the Chesapeake watershed into thousands of small areas and prescribes pollution abatement goals for each of those areas.
Here Come the Federal Puddle Police
The American Farm Bureau filed suit against the EPA, arguing that its Chesapeake Bay plan exceeded the EPA’s authority under the Clean Water Act (CWA). The Third District Court found against AFB, and the case has been appealed to the Supreme Court. If the highest court in the land agrees to hear the appeal, they’ll surely do so with more than a little frustration, as environmental agencies have lost three times in similar Supreme Court cases since 2001. The highest court has consistently reminded the agencies that the Clean Water Act is not a grant of federal control over every stream and depression in the nation.
IN THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE THIRD CIRCUIT AMERICAN FARM BUREAU FEDERATION, et al.,
U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY,
On Appeal from the United States District Court For the Middle District of
Pennsylvania, No. 1:11-cv-00067 (Hon. Sylvia H. Rambo)
BRIEF OF CAMBRIA COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA; CLEARFIELD COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA; LANCASTER COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA;
PERRY COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA; TIOGA COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA;HARDY COUNTY,WEST VIRGINIA;PENDLETON COUNTY, WEST VIRGINIA;
AND NEW CASTLE COUNTY, DELAWARE AS AMICI CURIAE IN SUPPORT OF REVERSAL
SUMMARY OF ARGUMENT
This appeal addresses the extent of EPA’s authority to establish TMDLs
under Section 303(d) of the CWA. TMDLs serve an incredibly important function
under the Act as an information tool for identifying how much pollutant load a
waterbody can assimilate and still meet water quality standards. But TMDLs must
be viewed in the context of the balance of power that Congress struck between the
federal government, on the one hand, the state and local governments, on the other.
This guiding principle of “cooperative federalism” imposes very real and very
important restrictions on how far EPA can go in dictating, through a TMDL, the
development and use of land and water resources at the state and local level. In this
particular case, Amici respectfully submit that EPA went too far.
Ninety percent of Cambria County drains into the Chesapeake Bay.
Most of the county’s rural land uses are subject to the Bay TMDL and will be affected by
EPA’s allocation of loading within and among these land uses. As a result of the
reductions compelled by the Bay TMDL, the County will be forced to make changes in these
land uses (e.g., taking agricultural lands out of production, limiting resource production activities,
and perhaps even banning some development activities).
The County has determined that between 1,302 to 7,420 acres would have to be taken out of
agricultural production because of these reductions and new buffer requirements under the
Bay TMDL. The impact of these EPA-imposed obligations will be felt by the County in lost
tax revenues, directly affecting local schools and other core municipal services.
Tioga County, Pennsylvania is 1,137 square miles (727,800 acres) and supports a population
of 42,577. The County is rural with a primary focus on agriculture.
Croplands occupy over 18% of total lands. All of Tioga County drains into the Chesapeake
Like the affected Amici in Pennsylvania, Amici Hardy County and Pendleton County
in West Virginia have been burdened by the Bay TMDL and their state’s EPA-controlled WIP.
In West Virginia, EPA determined that even though the state’s final Phase I WIP included some
improvements in the agriculture sector (for example, poultry litter transport, targeted Nutrient
Management Plans in high nitrogen-loading counties, and stream fencing), those improvements
were not enough to meet EPA’s approval standards.
Id. Specifically, EPA shifted 75% of West Virginia’s Animal Feeding Operation load into the WLA and assumed
full implementation of barnyard runoff control, waste management, and mortality composting practices.
originally posted by: Metallicus
It is a horrible overreach by the criminal Federal Government and the EPA. It is all part of removing the rights of private property ownership and the implementation of U.N. Agenda 21.
Welcome to socialism.
originally posted by: neo96
That's about the stupidest thing I have ever heard.
What passes for 'clean' water is water that has been process via chemicals, and other nonsense.
Runoff is about unclean as it gets.
In fact is the the motion of that water that cleans it the 'green' way.
It's why they say if you drink from a stream make sure it's one that is running, and not stagnant.
and EPA over reach.
Something needs to be done about that gestapo agency.
I agree but everytime someone wants to rane in their powers some ????? says oh no you gonna let the people destroy the environment ! Protect mother earth no matter how many people you kill and starve in the process..
This is not going to end. If Sanders gets elected, another socialist who believes all means of production should be owned and controlled by the State, this will continue until the State has control of all land, including private land.
The scientists are virtually unanimous that climate change is real, is caused by human activity and is already causing devastating problems in the United States and around the world. And, they tell us, if we do not act boldly the situation will only become much worse in years to come in terms of drought, floods, extreme storms and acidification of the oceans. Sadly, we now have a Republican Party that is more concerned about protecting the profits of Exxon, BP and Shell and the coal industry than protecting the planet. While fossil fuel companies are raking in record profits, climate change ravages our planet and our people – all because the wealthiest industry in the history of our planet has bribed politicians into ignoring science.
originally posted by: aethertek
So your argument is farmers should be allowed to let leach as much toxic runoff from their farms into the local waterways as they wish without any regulation?
Algal Blooms and Dead Zones