The American Farm Bureau Federation and other organizations are appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a lower court’s decision on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) plan to manage land use and development decisions in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
The decision allows the EPA to engage in local land use decision-making, imposing significant difficulties and costly burdens on municipalities, agricultural producers and builders.
“The odds that the Supreme Court will accept the case are better than average as the Third Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision conflicts with the decisions of other circuit courts, and risks setting a far-reaching precedent that establishes a federal jurisdiction over whether and how private and public properties in protected watersheds can be used,” said Paul Beard, counsel in Alston & Bird’s Environment, Land Use & Natural Resources Group who represents clients who will be affected by the appellate decision.
Beard noted the Clean Water Act mandates cooperative federalism, whereby EPA, the states and local governments must work together to address water pollution.
“The EPA’s decision turns that mandate on its head and usurps the traditionally local power to determine land use issues,” Beard explained. “EPA’s decision is bad for farmers, business and individuals, and it does little to promote the Clean Water Act’s goal of cleaning our waters.”