Chesapeake Bay watershed regulation

In 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency adopted a rule called, in the technical language of the Clean Water Act, a “total maximum daily load,” for the entire Chesapeake Bay watershed, which spans portions of six states (Virginia, West Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New York) and the District of Columbia. Generally, TMDLs identify how much of a given pollutant a water body can assimilate without becoming impaired. Once they are adopted, states are responsible for implementing permits and regulations to keep water pollution in check.

With the Chesapeake TMDL, however, EPA cut the states out of the process, adopting a micromanaging federal land use plan throughout the watershed. The unprecedented rule allocates potential pollution inputs among different industries, locations, land use types, and sources. As a result, the Chesapeake TMDL federalizes land use decisions across the entire six state watershed. This undermines federalism and subjects landowners and local governments to the distant and bureaucratic control of the EPA. The controversial rule was never submitted to Congress and therefore is not in effect, should not be enforced, and could be disapproved under the CRA.