Thursday 15 November 2018

In a unanimous 100-page opinion, the Court of Appeals on Friday dismissed complaints by several environmental groups that stormwater pollution discharge permits issued by the state were not sufficiently stringent and had been drafted without adequate public input.

The groups — including Waterkeepers Chesapeake and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation — had gone to court to challenge stormwater permits given by the Maryland Department of the Environment to Baltimore city and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Prince George’s and Montgomery counties. 

A Montgomery County Circuit Court judge had sided with the challengers, ordering the state to revise its permit for that county. But judges in the other jurisdictions had deferred to the state agency.

The environmental groups still have one appeal pending over their complaint that Baltimore city, in particular, was not required to do enough to root out illicit discharges into its storm sewers. Betsy Nicholas, executive director of Waterkeepers Chesapeake, said the groups would decide whether to pursue that case in light of the appeals court’s ruling on the others.

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(Published in Bay Journal, March 11, 2016)

On March 28 2016 attorneys for Anacostia Riverkeeper, a local advocacy organization working to protect and restore the Anacostia River, filed a complaint in the current civil enforcement action taken by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) against PEPCO for Clean Water Act violations. The federal government charged PEPCO with illegally discharging hundreds of pounds of toxic heavy metals for over five years into the Anacostia River at its Benning Road facility.  These toxic metals include copper, zinc, iron and lead. For a copy of the complaint, see https://goo.gl/53wjxj.
Anacostia Riverkeeper notified EPA that it would take action to stop these violations in Sept. 2015 when it filed a Notice of Intent to Sue under the Act. These unlawful discharges are ongoing and continuous, and involve dangerous toxic metals that violate PEPCO’s permit for at least the past five years.PEPCO’s extensive history of ongoing illegal discharges into the Anacostia River pose unacceptable risks of adverse health effects that threaten all users, including subsistence fishermen and casual visitors, while severely delaying progress toward clean up and restoration of this vital and historic watershed. DC and Maryland agencies have warned for years that local fisherman and their families should avoid eating fish caught from the Anacostia River because of toxic pollutants. The pollutants in the river accumulate in the tissue of the fish. Despite the risks and warnings, an estimated 17,000 people regularly eat fish taken from the Anacostia River. Anacostia Riverkeeper is deeply alarmed that EPA and the DC government tolerated these violations by PEPCO for so many years.
“It is unfortunate that it has taken several years and the force of legal action against Pepco by Anacostia Riverkeeper, for EPA to step up and take notice of PEPCO’s continued disregard for the law. We will continue to hold both EPA and PEPCO accountable for up holding the Clean Water Act and advocate for the health of our citizens and the environment,” said Emily Franc of Anacostia Riverkeeper.
Read more: The Southwester, May 10, 2016

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