Montgomery County Should Appeal Stormwater Case

by Evan Isaacson | July 27, 2015

Last Wednesday, a Montgomery County Circuit Court judge held that the Montgomery County Water Quality Protection Charge is invalid and that the plaintiff should not have been required to pay any stormwater fee to the county. The case could have significant ramifications across the state for jurisdictions that have, like Montgomery County, established a stormwater fee similar to the one invalidated in the case.

First, some background.  In 2012, the Maryland General Assembly passed HB 987, which required any jurisdiction subject to a certain federal stormwater permit (including, for example, Baltimore City and Prince George’s County) to implement an annual stormwater remediation fee and a local watershed protection and restoration fund to hold those new funds. The law did not require the local governments to set the fee at any specific level or otherwise require them to collect a specified amount in revenues; each jurisdiction had discretion in setting the local stormwater remediation fee. 

Interestingly, Montgomery County had established its Water Quality Protection Charge long before the Maryland General Assembly acted in 2012 and was well on its way to using the newly collected funds to support the development of green infrastructure throughout the county.  Subsequently, Montgomery decided to update its local laws to comply with the provisions of the new law, although it could have decided not to, as the local charge was authorized under a much older section of law that authorized but did not ...

Oral Argument Begins in Farm Lobby’s Misguided Challenge to Bay Pollution Diet

by Anne Havemann | November 18, 2014
Today, the Third Circuit will hear arguments in a case to determine whether the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) overstepped its authority when it established a pollution diet for the Chesapeake Bay. After decades of failed attempts to clean up the Bay, the pollution diet imposes strong, enforceable deadlines for cleanup. Even without distracting and misguided legal challenges from out-of-state lobbying groups, the restoration battle won’t be easy. The plan has been in place since 2010 and still the Bay experienced ...

Falling Behind: The Effort to Reduce Pollution from Industrial Animal Farms in Maryland is Lagging

by Anne Havemann | November 20, 2013
Maryland’s effort to limit pollution from massive industrial animal farms in the state is falling behind. A new CPR Issue Alert finds that the state has not registered 26 percent of Maryland’s concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and Maryland animal feeding operations (MAFOs), missing out on tens of thousands of pounds of pollution reduction in the Chesapeake Bay. The Chesapeake Bay is in trouble. Years of half-hearted interstate efforts to check polluting emissions and restore the nation's largest estuary have ...

CPR Briefing Paper: Chesapeake Bay States Need to Strengthen Penalty Policies to Make Sure there is No Profit in Pollution

by Robert Glicksman | April 19, 2013
Industries that discharge water pollution are required to abide by clean water laws and regulations that limit how much they can pollute the nation's rivers, lakes, streams, and other bodies of water. If they exceed their limits or fail to implement appropriate methods for controlling their pollution, they violate the law. Such violations should trigger appropriate sanctions to deter all regulated entities from committing future violations. Unfortunately, polluters may weigh decisions about whether and how much to pollute from a dollars-and-cents perspective ...

A Warning about Water Quality Trading in the Chesapeake

by Matthew Freeman | May 25, 2012
This Memorial Day weekend, boaters, swimmers, fishers and others will flock to the Chesapeake Bay to mark the traditional, if not quite calendrically accurate, beginning of summer.  They'll bring their wallets with them, of course, thus supporting businesses and and jobs up and down the Bay. After a day in, on or near the water, many of them will tuck into a meal of crabcakes, made from blue crabs harvested in the Bay. Recreation and commerce are two of the ...

Holding Maryland Accountable for Its Chesapeake Bay Clean-Up Obligations

by Matthew Freeman | February 06, 2012
In an article in the most recent issue of The Abell Report, the newsletter of The Abell Foundation, CPR President Rena Steinzor and CPR Policy Analysts Aimee Simpson and Yee Huang take a look at what ails the Chesapeake Bay (Spoiler Alert: it involves years of inaction on pollution), and offer up a number of practical steps the state of Maryland could take to make good on its commitments to clean up this most precious of natural resources. The article ...

As House Agriculture Committee Takes on the Chesapeake Bay Restoration, EPA Has the Law on Its Side

by Rena Steinzor | March 16, 2011
This morning a House Agriculture subcommittee will hold a hearing to "review the Chesapeake Bay TMDL, agricultural conservation practices, and their implications on national watersheds." Observers should be prepared for a trip to an alternate world. The Chesapeake Bay has suffered for decades now because of nitrogen, phosphorous, and sediment pollution. Once-abundant fish, blue crab, and oyster populations plummeted, and local economies built around them have paid the price. Repeated state pledges to reduce the pollution and restore the Bay ...

New CPR Report says State Plans for Chesapeake Bay Restoration Not Strong Enough to Get the Job Done

by Ben Somberg | January 25, 2011
Momentum for Chesapeake Bay restoration has advanced significantly in the past two years, shaped by the combination of President Obama’s Chesapeake Bay Protection and Restoration Executive Order and the EPA’s Bay-wide Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) process. These federal initiatives, taken in partnership with the Bay states, required the Bay states and the District of Columbia to submit Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs) to demonstrate how they will meet the pollution targets in the applicable TMDLs. In August, CPR sent the ...

EPA's TMDL for the Chesapeake: One Giant Step Toward a Restored Bay

by Yee Huang | December 29, 2010
Today EPA released the final Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), which is a cap or limit on the total amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment that can enter the Bay from the District of Columbia and the six Bay Watershed states: Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. The Bay TMDL culminates years of cooperation between EPA and these Bay jurisdictions in working toward a new plan to restore the Bay, a vital economic, recreational, and aesthetic ...

EPA to Issue Bay TMDL Wednesday, 12/29

by Yee Huang | December 28, 2010
Tomorrow, the Environmental Protection Agency will issue its final Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for the Chesapeake Bay, setting a pollution cap for the Bay that is comprised of 92 individual caps for each of the tributary segments that flow into the Bay.  The Bay TMDL represents another important milestone in the long-running effort to clean up the Bay, the largest estuary in North America, and return it to health.  Part of EPA’s release will include its response to the ...

The 111th Congress and the Chesapeake Bay

by Yee Huang | December 28, 2010
The 111th Congress saw two attempts to provide legislative impetus to restore the Chesapeake Bay.  Now that the lame duck session has ended, the results are in: The Chesapeake Clean Water and Ecosystem Protection Act, S. 1816.  Introduced in October 2009 by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), the bill would have reiterated EPA’s authority to establish a Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL).  This TMDL, which EPA is promulgating on schedule as required by consent decrees and an Executive Order ...

Maryland Submits Chesapeake Bay Cleanup Plan; Here's A First Look

by Yee Huang | December 03, 2010
Maryland submitted its final Phase I Watershed Implementation Plan for Chesapeake Bay restoration this afternoon. It's the strongest blueprint of any of the states, and if implemented and funded sufficiently would allow Maryland to achieve its needed share of pollutant reductions. Maryland has pledged to implement, by 2017, the pollutant controls necessary to achieve 70% of its needed reductions, and to an accelerated timeline by implementing all necessary pollutant controls by 2020. The plan has the most promise of any ...

Most Chesapeake Bay Watershed States Submit Cleanup Plans; A First Look at Virginia's

by Yee Huang | November 30, 2010
Yesterday was the deadline for Bay states and the District of Columbia to submit their final Phase I Watershed Implementation Plans (WIP). These WIPs are roadmaps that describe how Bay jurisdictions will meet their pollutant reduction obligations under the Bay TMDL. Delaware, the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia submitted their plans by the deadline, while Maryland expects to submit in the coming days. New York, which has taken a position essentially in opposition to the Bay TMDL, has not said ...

CPR Submits Comments to States on Chesapeake Bay Restoration Plans

by Yee Huang | November 04, 2010
Today CPR President Rena Steinzor and I submitted comments to EPA and each Chesapeake Bay Watershed jurisdiction regarding their draft Phase I Watershed Implementation Plans. The states, we find, need to improve their plans significantly. After more than 20 years of haplessly stumbling toward restoration, often in fits and starts, EPA and the Bay jurisdictions—Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia—have finally agreed on a final destination: the Bay TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load). ...

The Chesapeake Bay Program

by Matthew Freeman | September 27, 2010
In a CPRBlog post on Friday, 9/24, we inadvertantly referred to the Chesapeake Bay Program as the Chesapeake Bay Commission.  The Program is a regional partnership of states and the District of Columbia working together to restore the Bay.  The Commission is a group of 21 elected officials, appointees and citizen representatives conducting research, policymaking and consensus-building on Bay issues. There's a big difference between the two entitites, their methods, and their work.  It was a simple mistake, but not ...

WIP'ped Into Shape: Metrics for Ensuring Accountability for Chesapeake Bay Restoration

by Yee Huang | August 09, 2010
In the past 15 months, the combination of President Obama’s Chesapeake Bay Protection and Restoration Executive Order and the EPA’s Bay-wide Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) process has established a framework for ensuring accountability and success in Bay restoration efforts. No aspect of this new framework is more important than the Bay states’ and the District of Columbia’s Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs), which will demonstrate how they will meet the pollution targets in the applicable TMDLs. While the soundness of ...

Out of the Scrum, a Bad Deal for the Chesapeake Bay

by Rena Steinzor | July 06, 2010
Desperate to move a funding bill for Chesapeake Bay restoration out of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, progressive Senator Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) went into the scrum with one of the body’s most conservative members, James Inhofe (R-OK). After a struggle of uncertain intensity and duration, the two emerged, with Inhofe, who openly ridicules the idea of global climate change, firmly in control of the ball.  Cardin agreed to put his name on a dispiriting proposal that misses a crucial ...

Senator Cardin's Chesapeake Bay Bill Headed to Mark-Up

by Shana Campbell Jones | June 30, 2010
Today the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will discuss Senator Cardin’s Chesapeake Clean Water and Ecosystem Restoration Act of 2009 (S. 1816), along with a suite of other bills to protect the great waterways of the United States.  Critically, the bill codifies the Bay-wide Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), requiring it to be implemented and enforced.  To remedy the pervasive lack of accountability in prior Bay restoration agreements, the bill requires states to submit biennial progress reports and to commit ...

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