Legal and regulatory issues on Virginia Environmental Law

Virginia leadership challenging EPA…again.

By: Ann Neil Cosby.

And it may be a foreshadowing of more to come.

Earlier this year, Virginia Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli, II, filed a suit against the EPA calling into question certain data upon which some global warming regulations were based.

At a press conference yesterday, two Virginia legislators, state senator Ryan T. McDougle (R-Hanover), and delegate Timothy D. Hugo (R-Fairfax) called into question EPA data related to percentage increases in impervious surface areas. The data, which indicates that from 1990 to (more…)


The Quest for Sustainability and Economic Prosperity in Virginia

By: Ann Neil Cosby.

What a Difference a Year Makes!

During last year’s Environment Virginia Symposium at the Virginia Military Institute’s Center for Leadership and Ethics, scientists and speakers joined then Governor Tim Kaine in addressing the nexus of economic prosperity and economic stewardship in the quest for a more sustainable environment. Not surprisingly, climate change was a “hot” topic, as was the discussion of whether reducing global warming would (more…)


EPA Sets Accountability Framework for Chesapeake Bay cleanup

By: Ann Neil Cosby.

Since May 2009, when President Obama issued Executive Order 13508: Chesapeake Bay Protection Restoration and a new federally mandated cleanup initiative for the Chesapeake Bay was born, it has been unclear what consequences might be imposed by EPA if the states did not meet the new clean up requirements. Now we know.

On December 29, 2009, in a letter to the six states in the Bay watershed and the District of Columbia, EPA’s “accountability framework” was revealed. The framework is in addition to the EPA requirements set forth in November, 2009, when standards for the implementation of Watershed Implementation Plans were set, and milestones towards achieving the goals of those plans were established. (more…)


EPA Tightens Rules for Bay Cleanup

By: Ann Neil Cosby.

We knew tighter federal requirements for reducing pollutants in the Chesapeake Bay were on the way, and on Wednesday, Virginia and the other Chesapeake Bay states got their first taste of what federal oversight of Bay restoration might really mean. Each of the impacted states received letters from EPA detailing tighter restrictions on what pollutants could enter the Chesapeake Bay watershed and in what amounts. The EPA directed that states will have to limit annual discharges of nitrogen to 200 million pounds and phosphorus to 15 million pounds by 2025. Controls will need to be in place by 2017 to meet 60% of the mandated reductions.

While Virginia has taken action to reduce pollutants, most notably the new stormwater regulations that significantly limit nitrogen discharges from new and redevelopment, and limits on the amount of nitrogen that sources such as power plants and wastewater treatment plants may discharge, there is significantly more work to be done. This was true before the Obama Administration stepped in with the May, 2009 Executive Order mandating greater discharge limitations, and it remains true today – even more so. (more…)


Stormwater Rules Tightened…or Not

By: Jim Cornwell.

As we’ve told you before, the Department of Conservation and Resources has new restrictive stormwater regulations in the pipeline. Just this past Monday, the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board Meeting approved them for implementation. And then suspended them.

The story is that the DCR wants a little more time for public comment, for which they set the period of Oct. 26 to Nov. 26. The board will meet again on Dec. 9. Spokespeople don’t expect any substantive changes in the rules, but the debate between consumer and business groups has been intense. The last chance comment period is likely to be, as well. (more…)


Can We Clean Up the Chesapeake Bay?

By: Ann Neil Cosby.

For twenty years, federal and state regulators, local governments, and citizen interest groups have been struggling with the issue of the declining health of the Chesapeake Bay. Agreements have been made – and broken. Laws have been passed, regulations promulgated, executive orders issued…and to what result? The Bay is apparently no worse off today, but no better.

Recently, the Richmond Times Dispatch assembled a panel to discuss what they considered to be Virginia’s top environmental issues. While many agreed the cleanup of the Bay was one of, if not the most, important issue, how to correct what one panelist characterized as “400 years of development in Virginia,” and other causes of degradation, was harder to pin down. (more…)