16 November 2014

American Farm Bureau Federation vs. EPA: Oral Arguments Scheduled for Tuesday

Posted by John Freeland

American Farm Bureau Federation, et al. v. EPA, Case 13-4079 oral arguments are scheduled for Tuesday, November 18, 2014 at U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia.

The American Farm Bureau Federation (Farm Bureau) is suing the Environmental Protection Agency over its authority to regulate farm runoff. The issue has gained attention following this summer’s “do not drink” advisory affecting over 500,000 residents in the Toledo, Ohio area due to microcystin contamination.

Runoff from a field in Tennessee. Source: NRCS.

Runoff from a field in Tennessee. Source: NRCS.

The Farm Bureau’s “beef” with the EPA boils down this:

“On September 13, 2013, the District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania upheld EPA’s 2010 TMDL imposing caps on nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment loadings for waters throughout the entire 64,000-square-mile Chesapeake Bay watershed. While the Bay TMDL only directly affects farmers, home builders, towns, and others within the Bay watershed, the court’s decision leaves an open path for EPA to take similar actions to assign pollution caps across other watersheds – including potentially the entire Mississippi River Basin.

The court deferred to EPA’s interpretation that the Clean Water Act term “total maximum daily load” is ambiguous and allows the agency to set detailed “allocations” setting pollution caps for sources throughout a watershed, including poultry, livestock and row crop farms, builders, and towns…without regard to cost, technical feasibility, or whether the Bay’s water quality goals are even achievable…

AFBF and its allies filed an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Importance to Agricultural Community: To ensure that EPA cannot dictate how and when states choose to implement water quality goals, particularly where achieving those goals involves important land use and economic decisions.”

During the oral arguments, each side will have 20 minutes (20 minutes!) to make their case.

Stay tuned.

Congresswoman Kaptur discusses Lake Erie’s toxic algal blooms.