WASHINGTON (CN) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has failed for years to take steps it knows are necessary to clean up Chesapeake Bay, the nation’s largest estuary and home to 3,600 species, environmentalists say. Plaintiffs say the EPA has repeatedly dodged, stalled and refused to act though its own studies show that the estuary’s crabs, oysters and fish are being poisoned by fouled water, which the federal government promised to clean up in 1983.
The estuary, which runs 200 miles, from the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania to the Atlantic Ocean, covers 64,000 square miles and has an economic value of more than $1 trillion, including commercial and sports fishing and recreation, according to the complaint. It has been poisoned by runoff from agricultural chemicals on nearly 5 million acres of farmland, and more than 400 sewage plants.
Plaintiffs, including the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Maryland Saltwater Sportsfisherman’s Association, the Maryland Watermen’s Associations and the Virginia Waterman’s Association, say the EPA has simply blown off its responsibility to enforce the Clean Water Act, the 1983 Chesapeake Bay Agreement and the Chesapeake 2000 Agreement.
Plaintiffs want the EPA ordered to do its job. Their lead counsel is Jon Mueller with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation of Annapolis.