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AFBF v. Environmental Protection Agency

United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit; Case No. 13-4079

Case Summary: On September 13, 2013, the District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania upheld EPA’s 2010 TMDL imposing caps on nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment loadings for waters throughout the entire 64,000-square-mile Chesapeake Bay watershed. While the Bay TMDL only directly affects farmers, home builders, towns, and others within the Bay watershed, the court’s decision leaves an open path for EPA to take similar actions to assign pollution caps across other watersheds – including potentially the entire Mississippi River Basin.

The court deferred to EPA’s interpretation that the Clean Water Act term “total maximum daily load” is ambiguous and allows the agency to set detailed “allocations” setting pollution caps for sources throughout a watershed, including poultry, livestock and row crop farms, builders, and towns. The court also upheld EPA’s demand of “reasonable assurances” that EPA’s caps will be achieved on EPA’s timeline – without regard to cost, technical feasibility, or whether the Bay’s water quality goals are even achievable. The court also deferred to EPA’s technical expertise in the modeling that served as a basis for its “allocations,” despite AFBF’s demonstration that EPA arbitrarily relied on admittedly false data. Finally, the court found no harm in EPA’s failure to provide the public with complete information on the proposed TMDL during the public comment period.

AFBF and its allies filed an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
Importance to
Agricultural
Community:
To ensure that EPA cannot dictate how and when states choose to implement water quality goals, particularly where achieving those goals involves important land use and economic decisions.
AFBF Role: Plaintiff
Select Filings: 2014.08.20 AFBF Reply Brief.pdf2014.06.30 Opposition to Members of Congress Amicus Brief.pdf2014.06.20 Congressional Brief.pdf2014.04.28 MD DE and DC Amicus Brief.pdf2014.04.28 - Law Professors Amicus Brief.pdf2014.04.09 Virginia Amicus Brief.pdf2014.04.09 City of Annapolis Amicus Brief.pdf2014.04.02 EPA Response Brief.pdf2014.02.03 State Amicus Brief in Support of AFBF Appeal.pdf2014.02.03 County Amicus Brief in Support of AFBF Appeal.pdf2014.01.27 AFBF Joint Opening Brief.pdf2013.12.16 Third Circuit Scheduling Order.pdf2013.09.13 District Court Opinion.pdf2012.11.02 AFBF Reply Brief on Deference.pdf2012.10.24 Chesapeake Bay Foundation Post Argument Brief on Deference.pdf2012.10.24 EPA Post Argument Brief on Deference.pdf2012.10.17 AFBF Post Argument Brief on Deference.pdf2012.08.10 Chesapeake Bay Foundation Opposition to Oral Argument.pdf2012.07.20 Chesapeake Bay Foundation Reply Brief.pdf2012.07.18 AFBF Memo in Support of Motion to Strike.pdf2012.07.16 City of Annapolis Amicus.pdf2012.07.13 Pennsylvania Municipal Authorities Assn. Reply Brief.pdf2012.07.13 National Assn. of Clean Water Authorities Reply Brief.pdf2012.06.20 EPA Memo in Support of Cross Motion for Summary Judgment.pdf2012.05.21 AFBF Reply Brief.pdf2012.04.20 National Assn. of Clean Water Authorities Brief.pdf2012.04.20 Pennsylvania Municipal Authorities Assn. to Opposition to AFBF Motion for Summary Judgment.pdf2012.04.12 Chesapeake Bay Foundation Opposition to AFBF Motion for Summary Judgment.pdf2012.03. 27 EPA Memo in Support of Cross Motion for Summary Judgment.pdf2012.01.27 AFBF Motion for Summary Judgment.pdf2012.01.11 Amended Case Management Order.pdf2011.12.30 District Court of Pennsylvania Order Partially Granting Motion to Complete Administrative Record.pdf2011.10.11 AFBF Memo in Support of Motion to Complete Administrative Record.pdf2011.10.11 AFBF Motion to Complete Administrative Record.pdf2011.07.28 Pennsylvania Municipal Authorities Assn. Reply to Opposition to Motion to Intervene.pdf2011.07.07 Chesapeake Bay Foundation Reply to Opposition to Motion to Intervene.pdf2011.07.05 Municipal Clean Water Assn. Reply to Opposition to Motion to Intervene.pdf2011.06.27 Pennsylvania Municipal Authorities Assn. Motion to Intervene.pdf2011.06.24 National Assn. of Home Builders Complaint.pdf2011.06.20 AFBF Opposition to Motions to Intervene.pdf2011.06.02 Chesapeake Bay Foundation Motion to Intervene.pdf2011.05.25 Municipal Clean Water Assn. Motion to Intervene.pdf2011.04.04 AFBF First Amended Complaint.pdf2011.01.10 AFBF Complaint.pdf