At this time last year, the EPA set limits on the maximum daily amount of nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment allowed into the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries; commonly referred to as the Chesapeake Bay TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load).  States within the watershed were subsequently required to develop an EPA approved plan for limiting the pollutants from entering the watershed.

Immediately thereafter, national agricultural organizations joined forces to challenge the EPA’s TMDL for the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.  The ag organizations argue that the EPA exceeded their authority under the Clean Water Act and the models used to establish the TMDL was based on faulty science.  For more information on the claims and counterclaims, check out John Vogel’s article in Nebraska Farmer.

Environmental groups like the Chesapeake Bay Foundation argue that agriculture is solely concerned that tighter regulations will lead to increased cost and decreased production rather than the well being and health of those who live in the watershed.

In 2012, the Pennsylvania federal court will most likely decide whether the EPA acted within the scope of the Clean Water Act and whether the science used to develop the TMDL was sufficient.  The decision will ultimately be the test case for future water regulations nationally.  From a Midwestern point of view, environmentalists and the EPA will most likely set their sights on the Mississippi and Missouri River Watersheds if the federal court upholds the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay TMDL.

(Plaintiffs in the case include the American Farm Bureau Federation, the Fertilizer Institute, National Pork Producers Council, National Corn Growers Association, National Chicken Council, U.S. Poultry and Egg Association, and the National Turkey Federation)