House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., along with nearly 40 House and Senate members on Friday filed an amicus brief in the case of American Farm Bureau Federation, et al. v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, et al., which is currently before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
The amicus brief, signed by 39 bipartisan Members of Congress, is in support of the AFBF's position and urges the Court to acknowledge the congressional intent of the Clean Water Act to reserve the rights of states to implement water quality goals as related to the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed Total Maximum Daily Load.
The case aims to appeal a September 2013 decision that allows EPA to set Total Maximum Daily Loads on how many pounds of nutrients can run off property into waters of a state.
According to Farm Futures blogger and Illinois attorney Gary Baise, the decision says EPA can impose caps on nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment loadings for every waterway which brings water from the entire 64,000-sq. mile Chesapeake Bay watershed.
In a May commentary, Baise argues that if AFBF loses the appeal, EPA "will most certainly attempt to limit nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment running into the Mississippi River Basin" as well.
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Goodlatte, along with the brief's signatories, agree. Goodlatte said it could set a precedent for future TMDL cases and apply to the rest of the country.
"EPA's power grab surrounding the Chesapeake Bay TMDL sets a dangerous precedent by usurping authority delegated to the states in the Clean Water Act simply because the agency disagrees with a state's decision on implementation," Goodlatte says. "The District Court wrongly left this power grab unchecked."
"As the EPA continues to ignore the intent of Congress and the framework of the law, it is necessary to weigh in on the Appeals Court's proceedings and highlight where the EPA has violated the law and infringed upon states' rights," his statement continued.
"I have heard first-hand from municipalities, farmers, home builders, and many others in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed who are concerned about the costs of overregulation worsened by the EPA's measures.
"States and communities need more flexibility in meeting water quality goals in order to help restore and protect our natural resources. I urge the Court to follow congressional intent and reserve these decisions for the states," Goodlatte said. "The EPA does not have the legal authority to micromanage states' water quality goals."
Continue reading about the case, and its impacts on farmers across the U.S. on Gary Baise's blog, Defending Agriculture.
Signatories on the brief include: Reps. Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., Lou Barletta, R-Pa., Joe Barton, R-Texas, Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., Kevin Brady, R-Texas, Chris Collins, R-N.Y., Doug Collins, R-Ga., Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., John Fleming, R-La., Bob Gibbs, R-Ohio, Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, Sam Graves, R-Mo., H. Morgan Griffith, R-Va., Brett Guthrie, R-Ky., Andy Harris, R-Md., Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., Robert Hurt, R-Va., Billy Long, R-Mo., Frank Lucas, R-Okla., Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., Tom Massie, R-Ky., David McKinley, R-W.Va., Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas, Collin Peterson, D-Minn., Scott Perry, R-Pa., Robert Pittenger, R-N.C., Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., Todd Rokita, R-In., Dennis Ross, R-Fla., Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., Bill Shuster, R-Pa., Adrian Smith, R-Ne., Scott Tipton, R-Colo., and Glenn Thompson, R-Pa.
Sens. Pat Toomey, R-Pa. and David Vitter, R-La., also signed the brief.