Court Dismisses Case on Stringent Nutrient Standards for Mississippi Basin12/19/2016
In a big victory for agriculture, a federal court Thursday dismissed a lawsuit by environmental activists that would have forced the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to impose stringent nutrient standards on farmers in the Mississippi River Basin, the world’s second largest, draining nearly 2 million square miles in 31 states.
Environmental groups wanted the agency to impose regulations on the amount of nitrogen and phosphorous that could be in waters in the basin. The Clean Water Act assigns responsibility for such pollution control to the states.
EPA did set so-called Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) for the Chesapeake Bay and its 64,000-square-mile watershed, regulating mostly farm and agricultural storm water runoff. NPPC, the American Farm Bureau Federation and other agricultural groups and business organizations challenged the regulation in federal court, but it was upheld.)
EPA declined the environmentalists’ petition for a regulation for the Mississippi River Basin, explaining that the most effective way to address water pollution in the basin would be to build on its earlier efforts and to work cooperatively with states. The environmental groups claimed the agency’s denial was arbitrary, capricious and not grounded in the [clean water] statute, arguing that EPA was required to make a determination on whether to promulgate a regulation based on scientific data.
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana disagreed and granted EPA’s motion to dismiss the case. NPPC organized and lead a coalition of 44 state and national agricultural groups that intervened as parties in the litigation to defend EPA’s initial denial of the rulemaking petition and prevent a backroom, sweetheart “sue-and-settle” agreement between the Obama administration and environmentalists such as the kind that lead to the Chesapeake Bay TMDL regulation.
In addition to NPPC, the coalition of intervenors included the Illinois Pork Producers Association, Indiana Pork, the Iowa Pork Producers Association, the Minnesota Pork Producers Association, the Missouri Pork Association, the Tennessee Pork Producers Association and the Wisconsin Pork Producers Association.