“It’s about whether EPA has the power to override local decisions on what land can be farmed, where homes can be built and where schools, hospitals, roads and communities can be developed,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “This is nothing less than federal super-zoning authority. As much as we all support the goal of achieving a healthy Chesapeake Bay, we have to fight this particular process for getting there.”
Virginia Farm Bureau Federation joins the AFBF in its support of clean water and a healthy bay, but both organizations oppose the process the EPA has chosen.
“Our farmers continuously seek improvements to their farming methods to protect the bay, and we’ve come a long way in making changes for the better,” said VFBF President Wayne F. Pryor. “EPA overstepping its boundaries and regulating areas that are out of its control is only going to muddy the regulation waters and wreak havoc in our rural communities.”
Farm Bureau believes the EPA’s clean water “blueprint” and the earlier court ruling open the door for a massive expansion of federal power. The case boils down to whether the EPA has the power to override local decisions.
Twenty-one states, 39 members of Congress and a group of counties within the Chesapeake Bay watershed supported AFBF’s legal challenge in the lower courts.
Virginia was one of the states involved in the challenge because implementation of the EPA’s blueprint is expected to cost roughly $28 billion to $30 billion in Maryland and Virginia alone.
The greatest practical harm of the bay blueprint, according to the AFBF court filing, is that it “locks in” decisions made in 2010 and “deprives state and local governments of the ability to adapt their plans to take account of changes in societal needs, developing technologies or new information. It prevents them from exercising their own judgment about the best and most efficient ways to achieve goals for the bay.”