Farming, building groups appeal Bay ruling

Farming and building industry groups are appealing a federal judge's ruling upholding the Environmental Protection Agency's authority to impose Chesapeake Bay cleanup goals on states.

Farming and building groups are appealing a federal judge's ruling recently that upheld the Environmental Protection Agency's "pollution diet" for the Chesapeake Bay.

Lawyers for the American Farm Bureau Federation, the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, and other groups representing fertilizer manufacturers, pork, poultry and corn growers and home builders filed a notice of appeal Monday in federal district court in Harrisburg, Pa.


U.S. District Judge Sylvia H. Rambo ruled Sept. 13 that EPA could impose pollution reductions on Maryland and five other states in the bay watershed. In doing so, she rejected arguments by the farming and building industry groups that EPA had usurped states' rights to determine how to clean up water pollution, particularly in regard to regulating farming and other land uses.

Bob Stallman, president of the farm bureau federation, said the case had been "wrongly decided" and contended it has "dangerous implications" nationwide for farmers and many others.  He accused the EPA of engaging in a " remarkable power grab."

"This case isn't about whether or not to protect the Chesapeake Bay - we all share that goal," he said in a statement announcing the appeal. "This case is about whether EPA can dictate where farming will be allowed, where homes can be built and where businesses can be established."

EPA, Maryland officials and environmentalists had welcomed the ruling, saying it vindicated the federal initiative in coordinating states' bay cleanup efforts after more than two decades of mostly voluntary cooperation among states had failed to yield results.


Jon Mueller, lawyer for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, which intervened on EPA's side, said the farm bureau is falsely claiming that the ruling gives the federal agency authority to stop farmers from farming.

CBF President William C. Baker called the appeal disappointing but said he was confident the judge's ruling would be upheld.