The Environmental Protection Agency is moving to enact new rules to curb pollution from development and large-scale animal farms to help restore the Chesapeake Bay, the agency's chief announced Monday.
EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said the rules governing storm water and farm animal waste would serve as a "backstop" to pollution control measures that Maryland and other bay states are expected to take over the next two years. She made the announcement in Washington at a bay cleanup conference that ends today.
While the storm-water rules would apply nationwide to new development, Jackson said the agency would consider writing more stringent requirements for the six-state bay watershed because storm water is a significant and growing source of pollution fouling the estuary. EPA will weigh imposing new mandates to reduce storm water in existing communities and on redevelopment projects as well as new construction, Jackson said.
EPA already regulates waste handling at hundreds of large-scale chicken and livestock farms in the bay watershed. Jackson said the agency may expand its oversight to smaller farms and demand even more stringent controls of polluted runoff from them. But the agency will hold off on imposing those rules, she said, as long as states enact equivalent measures to reduce farm pollution.
The storm-water rules are expected to take two years to draw up, and the animal-farm requirements three years. The time lag bothers environmentalists, who otherwise hailed the agency's move to expand federal regulation. "The bay needs immediate attention," said William Baker, president of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
Jackson noted that EPA may well act sooner. The states have to submit draft plans by this summer for reducing bay pollution, and then must spell out by the fall what they intend to do to meet their cleanup goals. EPA has warned it may impose sanctions on the states, including possibly blocking permits or diverting federal funds, if they fall short.