New EPA Pollution Agreement

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has signed a new agreement to reduce Chesapeake Bay pollution from animal operations. According to proponents, the agreement could help achieve the goal of reducing pollution throughout the six-state Bay region by 2025.

In the 2010 settlement agreement to a lawsuit brought by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) and partners, EPA agreed, among other things, to promulgate a new national Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) rule to address pollution discharges from livestock and poultry farms.

As a result, CBF and EPA signed a legally binding amendment to the settlement agreement that replaces the rulemaking provision with four requirements that will help ensure that pollution from the Bay region’s animal feeding operations is reduced by 2017.  The commitments in this modified agreement will help determine whether farms are actually discharging pollution.

First, EPA must audit each state’s CAFO and Animal Feeding Operation (AFO) programs to ensure they comply with the Clean Water Act and are being implemented to effectively meet the pollution reduction goals of the state WIPs. If they find problems EPA is bound to take appropriate actions. For example, for Virginia to meet its Blueprint goals, EPA should require that the state amend its AFO regulations to require that cattle be fenced out of streams.

Second, inspect animal feeding operations in the Bay region to ensure compliance with applicable requirements, and take action if they are not. This is essential because in Pennsylvania, for example, preliminary analyses have indicated a significant percentage of Pennsylvania’s farms may not be in compliance with one or more long-standing conservation-based regulations.

Third, review specific CAFO permits and their associated nutrient management plans, determine whether those plans are effectively achieving water quality goals, and take action if they are not. CBF has long been concerned that some farmers don’t follow the nutrient management plans and that for some they are just a paper exercise.

And finally, EPA will use the data collected to determine whether revisions to national CAFO rules are necessary to reach cleanup goals.

The Virginia State Waterman’s Association, the Maryland Watermen’s Association, the Maryland Saltwater Sportfishermen’s Association, former Maryland Governor Harry Hughes, retired Maryland Senator Bernie Fowler, former Virginia legislator and Natural Resources Secretary Tayloe Murphy, and former Washington D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams joined CBF in the lawsuit and the 2010 settlement.

source: Chesapeake Bay Foundation

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