Environmentalists to Sue EPA Over Bay Pollution

Group trying to enforce the Clean Water Act

BALTIMORE -- The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, other environmental, commercial and recreational groups and people from Maryland, Virginia and Washington intend to sue the Environmental Protection agency to force pollution reduction in the bay.

The foundation planned to file the required notice of intent to sue with the Department of Justice on Wednesday. Sixty days notice is required before filing suit against the EPA to enforce the Clean Water Act.

"People are pretty outraged that 25 years into the bay program, substantial progress to reduce pollution has not been made," said William C. Baker, president of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

The 21-page notice claims the EPA has failed to obey the terms of the Clean Water Act and Chesapeake Bay agreements.

"We would like court to impose a legally binding requirement to enforce terms of the Clean Water Act and bring water quality of the Chesapeake Bay to the level that it will be removed from federal impaired waters list," Baker said.

Benjamin Grumbles, EPA's assistant administrator for water, said in an e-mailed statement: "The restoration of the Chesapeake Bay requires action from everyone. EPA will continue to work with its partners for results and strategies involving all levels of government. To further progress, EPA will complete a pollution reduction budget for nutrients and sediments on the bay watershed by 2010 to expedite the restoration."

Among the people filing the intent to sue are former Washington Mayor Anthony Williams, former Maryland Gov. Harry Hughes and former Virginia legislator and Natural Resources secretary Tayloe Murphy. Groups include the Virginia State Waterman's Association and the Maryland Watermen's Association.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation says it has about 200,000 members.

The notice says the bay, the largest estuary in the country, provides recreation and income to about 17 million people. Poor water quality has hurt the blue crab population, destroyed underwater grasses and hurt bay fish.

The effect of poor water quality has been felt by watermen, recreational fishermen and sports fishers.

"Until water quality improves, bay resources will not improve" the notice says.

The first Chesapeake Bay Agreement was signed in 1983, the notice says. New subsequent agreements were signed in 1987 and 2000. The 1987 agreement called for reducing nitrogen and phosphorous pollution by 40 percent.

The notice says that goal was not met and will not be met by 2010, the year the 2000 pact called for it.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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