January 5, 2009

EPA sued to clean up Chesapeake Bay

An environmental group filed a lawsuit Monday to require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to clean up the 64,299-square-mile Chesapeake Bay.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation and several Maryland and Virginia fishing groups accuse the federal agency of shirking its legal responsibilities to clean up the troubled bay, the largest estuary in the United States.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, contends the EPA has failed to comply with the U.S. Clean Water Act and with a host of interstate agreements the agency has signed over 25 years to restore the bay.

The lawsuit contends the agency's inaction has led to a continued decline in the bay's water quality and harmed its crabs, oysters and fish -- as well as the people who make a living from the bay.

The bay's water quality has worsened over the past two decades, University of Maryland research indicates.

People are outraged that technologies that can clean up the Chesapeake Bay and are required by law are not being implemented, and that the law is not being enforced, foundation President William Baker told The (Baltimore) Sun.

We want to see the science followed and the rule of law enforced, he said. That's the least we can ask of our government.

EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Benjamin Grumbles said the agency is committed to holding polluters accountable.

That means using innovative and sustainable tools and focusing on environmental cooperation, not just legal confrontation, he said in a statement.