CAMBRIDGE — A federal mandate that says federal and state agencies shall coordinate implementation of federal programs will be used by the Dorchester County Council to challenge recent requirements for water implementation plans by Maryland counties to meet the stipulations of an agreement between the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Environmental Protection Agency.
The EPA is requiring Maryland to prepare a water implementation plan for each county, if counties do not create their own, following settlement of the CBF suit which required the EPA to establish a Total Maximum Daily Load for pollutants being released into Chesapeake Bay. Implementing the WIPs is expected to cost $14.4 billion throughout the state by 2025.
Dorchester County has created a WIP but did not implement it. The Dorchester County Council voted against establishing the WIP because of the estimated $87 million cost to implement the plan.
Instead of approving its WIP, the Dorchester County Council began the Clean Chesapeake Coalition, a group which includes Kent, Caroline, Cecil, Frederick, Allegany, Carroll and, most recently, Wicomico counties, with other Eastern Shore counties considering membership.
Tuesday evening the Dorchester County Council heard from attorneys working for the Clean Chesapeake Coalition and agreed to move forward with a resolution, for which a public hearing will be required, seeking coordination with the U.S. EPA and Maryland departments of the environment, natural resources and agriculture for implementation of the TDML and WIP.
Watermen from around the Chesapeake Bay region, including Maryland Watermen’s Association President Robert Brown, attended Tuesday evening’s meeting to discuss expanding areas in Bay waters where power dredging for oysters could be allowed as part of the WIP.
The county council also heard from Idaho attorney Fred Kelly Grant, who has invoked coordination in many Western states for various interest groups. Grant said he began using coordination to challenge the federal Bureau of Land Management’s decision to stop cattle grazing on federal lands, the first of many battles he has won throughout the West.
Grant said seeking coordination has worked in 108 communities. “Each time,” he said, “the agency has come into line with local policy.”
If there is no progress through seeking coordination, according to the plan presented by Clean Chesapeake Coalition attorneys Charles “Chip” MacLeod and Jeff Blomquist, notices of intent will be sent “for mandamus, injunction, civil rights violations,” citing Dorchester farmers and watermen and other community interests as plaintiffs in federal court suit, “demanding coordination and accommodation of county policies in implementation of federal and state TDML initiatives.”
Grant said invoking coordination has been tested in court seven times.
Coordination has been used by Grant to bring about delisting of wolves from the Endangered Species Act in Idaho, he said, to allow for the continuation of uranium mining around the Grand Canyon and to allow for continued control of prairie dogs in areas that also serve as habitat for black-footed ferrets.