Herring files brief in Chesapeake Bay battle

Photo by WAVY/Anita Blanton.

HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) – Attorney General Mark Herring has filed an amicus brief to protect Virginia’s interests and rights to restore the Chesapeake Bay.

During an announcement in Hampton Thursday, Herring said plans to restore the bay have recently come under fire by non-bay states: “I will not let it go unanswered, the attacks against our plan to protect our bay.”

For decades, Virginians have worked to manage and restore the Chesapeake Bay, which is vital to the Commonwealth in many ways. Research shows the bay contributes $2 billion annually and 41,000 jobs from commercial fishing, $1.6 billion and 13,000 jobs from saltwater angling, $70 million in crabs and $680 million in tourism.

But Herring said recently special interest groups, like the Farm Bureau Federation, the Fertilizer Institute and the National Home Builders, along with 21 Attorney Generals from states as far away as Utah, Montana, Texas and Alaska — none of which touch our water — filed a brief opposing the continued efforts of Bay states and the EPA through a joint restoration plan to keep clean the very thing that adds so much value here.

“[The joint restoration plan is] working, and we can’t let it be derailed by legal challenges, by special interests,” said Bill Street, Chief Executive Officer of the James River Association.

At issue in the case against the current restoration plan is a portion that deals with the Clean Water Act and whether or not the EPA was out of line dealing with state authority on the issue. Herring, though, said he hopes the courts will recognize the importance of the current plan and allow Virginia and other bay states to continue their work.

Herring said this is the most promising plan yet to restore the Chesapeake Bay.

His brief was filed Wednesday night. Amicus curiae translates to ‘friend of the court,’ and means the attorney general is not one of the parties in the case, but is permitted by the court to advise it.

“Virginia is once again entering battle to ensure clean water in the bay,” Will Baker, President of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation said. “We salute, admire and thank Attorney General Herring. The attorney general recognized just how much it would mean for Virginia to lose on this issue. Others seek to protect their own interests by turning back progress we’ve achieved. Today is historic turning point where Virginia stood up against outside forces threatening the plans for our bay.”

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