Businesses, members of Congress, 22 states urge Supreme Court review of EPA bay ‘blueprint’

congressA wave of supporters filed friend-of-the-court briefs on Dec. 9, joining the American Farm Bureau Federation in urging the U.S. Supreme Court to hear arguments on the Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to micromanage state land-use and development decisions under the guise of the Chesapeake Bay water quality “blueprint.”

Filers included 92 members of Congress, 22 states, forestry groups represented by the Pacific Legal Foundation, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and the National Federation of Independent Business.

“The fact that so many voices are being raised in support of Supreme Court review shows the broad and severe threat that EPA’s action here poses nationwide,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman.

He said the agency “has asserted powers that do not appear in any law written by Congress, and it has done so in the context of an iconic national treasure, hoping that will inoculate its power grab in the courts. We have faith that the nation’s highest court will see this for what it is and hold EPA accountable to stay within its statutory authority.”

The EPA asserted federal control over the Chesapeake Bay recovery in its 2010 plan that effectively gives the agency the ability to function as a super-zoning authority over local and state governments. That authority includes a say in where homes can be built, where land can be farmed and where commercial development can occur.

Lower courts upheld the EPA’s blueprint on the theory that it furthers the water quality goals of the Clean Water Act, despite the absence of words in the statute authorizing such federal action. A significant issue presented for the Supreme Court is the degree to which courts should defer to broad agency interpretations of their statutory power.

The broad support for the Farm Bureau petition “shows that deep concerns about the bay blueprint go far beyond agriculture and far beyond the bay region,” said AFBF General Counsel Ellen Steen. “Members of Congress, states and business groups recognize that this illegal framework will be imposed throughout the country unless the court intervenes. Given the enormous social and economic consequences, not to mention the grave questions about federalism and deference to agency overreaching, this is a case that cries out for Supreme Court review.”

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