We heard earlier this week that VA Attorney General Herring filed an amicus “Friend of the Court” brief in the AFBF appeal of decision in their litigation against EPA regarding the Chesapeake Bay. The Pennsylvania US district court ruled that EPA did not require authority from Congress to act on environmental issues. We believe that is the exact opposite of our fundamental rules of government; EPA only has the authority expressly granted from Congress.
As you may have heard 21 Attorneys General from across the US have filed a similar brief on behalf of AFBF’s position. This action was inevitable in order to counter that brief especially since the Chesapeake Bay Foundation has intervened in the case.
This is a setback but hopefully not fatal to the appeal.
Below is a statement from Virginia Farm Bureau Federation President Wayne F. Pryor that has been sent to various media and newspapers across the state:
“Like most Virginians, the commonwealth’s farmers support and see the tremendous value of a productive and healthy Chesapeake Bay. We simply disagree about the role of the federal government, specifically the Environmental Protection Agency, in maintaining the progress we have made and further improvements we all desire.
It is surprising that Attorney General Herring would defend an EPA action that undeniably ties states’ hands and restricts their authority to make their own local land use and development decisions. The pending American Farm Bureau Federation appeal of a federal district court lawsuit does not challenge Virginia’s own cleanup plan or Virginia’s ability to work collaboratively with other bay watershed states and with the EPA to clean up the bay. What it does challenge is the EPA’s edict that Virginia and the other bay states cannot change their cleanup plans without EPA approval. As Rep. Bob Goodlatte noted in the April 11 article “Herring supports federal plan to clean up Chesapeake Bay,” no state should have to say, “Mother, may I?” to make its own land use and water quality decisions.
Fortunately, 21 other state attorneys general recognize this EPA power grab for what it is and have challenged it. If or when the commonwealth of Virginia decides it wants to pursue the bay cleanup in a manner contrary to EPA’s wishes—perhaps in a way that will lower its $15 billion dollar price tag for citizens—the commonwealth will thank the American Farm Bureau for preserving its ability to do so.
On behalf of farmers across Virginia, I call upon Attorney General Herring to work directly with us to continue our progress toward conservation goals for the Chesapeake Bay.”