Agricultural Groups Submit Comments on Proposed Chesapeake Bay Water Quality Regulations
Washington, D.C. – The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) has joined 29 agricultural and forestry organizations in submitting comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding water quality regulations it is proposing for the Chesapeake Bay. The comments outline the agriculture and forestry community’s concerns with the Agency’s draft Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) requirements for the Bay, while calling attention to the significant contributions of agriculture to improvements to water quality in the Chesapeake Bay.
“The agriculture community supports water quality protection and is taking action at the ground level to prevent pollutants from reaching waterways,” said TFI President Ford B. West. “In fact, even EPA’s data shows that since 1985 the agriculture community has reduced phosphorus loadings by over 21 percent, nitrogen loadings by 27 percent and sediment loadings by 24 percent within the Bay watershed.”
Despite these voluntary efforts, which have resulted in measurable improvements to water quality, the comments state that EPA’s models do not account for many of the voluntary agricultural and forestry practices that are currently being employed in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and as a result, the draft TMDL fails to acknowledge the success that has been achieved in the Bay by the efforts of the agricultural community and others.
In addition to highlighting EPA’s oversight of the agriculture and forestry community’s environmental stewardship efforts within the Bay, the comments criticize the Agency’s failure to provide sufficient information for the public regarding the draft TMDL and the models used to develop the requirements.
"By withholding adequate information regarding the TMDL, EPA has inhibited the agriculture community’s ability to properly evaluate and comment on the requirements,” said West. “The Agency has also made it difficult for policy makers and the public to understand the magnitude of the economic and social impacts of the Draft TMDL and this has prevented a meaningful dialogue about the costs, benefits, and trade-offs among various policy choices.”
Even more troubling than EPA’s lack of transparency in proposing the draft TMDL, the agricultural groups’ comments explain that EPA knows it is using flawed data to impose the draft TMDL, and additionally, is stepping outside of the authority it has been granted by the Clean Water Act in order to do so.
“It is not possible for EPA to establish a legally and technically defensible TMDL for the entire 64,000 square mile Chesapeake Bay watershed,” stated West. “This task is beyond the tools provided by the Clean Water Act and as such the agricultural community is urging EPA to withdraw its draft TMDL, address the flaws in its modeling, and work with the watershed jurisdictions to develop TMDLs for the Chesapeake Bay watershed that are attainable without causing widespread and significant economic and social impacts on the people who live and work in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, as well as the people who rely on the food, fiber and fuel that is produced there.”
About the Fertilizer Institute
The Fertilizer Institute represents the nation’s fertilizer industry. Producers, wholesalers, retailers and trading firms which comprise its membership are served by a full time Washington, D.C., staff in various legislative, educational and technical areas as well as with information and public relations programs.