Description: Citizen suit challenging EPA's alleged inaction regarding Ohio Environmental Protection Agency's failure to develop a Total Maximum Daily Load for western Lake Erie or otherwise address western Lake Erie's impairment.
Environmental Law & Policy Center v. EPA
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 11/10/2022 Federal Register Notice Download Notice of proposed consent decree and request for public comment published. Proposed Consent Decree Would Require Submission of Final TMDL for Western Lake Erie by June 2023. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published notice of a proposed consent decree in a citizen suit filed in 2019 that alleged that EPA violated the Clean Water Act and Administrative Procedure Act when it approved a report and impaired water list submitted by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency that identified western Lake Erie as a “low” priority for development of a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) to address nutrient pollution. The plaintiffs alleged that a TMDL was “especially urgent” because algal blooms and nutrient pollution problems “are likely to be exacerbated by climate change.” In 2020, Ohio submitted, and EPA approved, a new impaired waters list that identified western Lake Erie as a high priority for TMDL development. The consent decree would require that Ohio submit a final TMDL to EPA by June 30, 2023 and would require EPA to develop a TMDL if Ohio does not submit a final TMDL by the deadline and the court does not extend the deadline. 11/10/2022 Consent Decree Download Consent decree published for public comment. 04/30/2020 Complaint Download Amended complaint of Board of Lucas County Commissioners filed. 11/13/2019 Order Download Motions to dismiss denied. 02/07/2019 Complaint Download Complaint filed. Environmental Groups Filed Lawsuit Seeking to Compel TMDL for Western Lake Erie. Two environmental groups filed a Clean Water Act citizen suit in the federal district court for the Northern District of Ohio asserting that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had “expressly endorsed” the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s (Ohio EPA’s) attempt to evade its legal obligation to address nutrient pollution causing harmful algal blooms in western Lake Erie. The groups alleged that EPA had approved a report and impaired water list submitted by Ohio EPA that identified western Lake Erie as a “low” priority for development of a Total Daily Maximum Load (TMDL) after having said the waterbody was “one of the highest, if not the highest, priority for Ohio to address.” The groups said EPA’s approval of the “low” designation would allow Ohio EPA “to continue dragging its feet and failing to protect western Lake Erie waters for many years more with limited legal and public accountability.” The groups asked the court to direct EPA to require Ohio EPA to adopt a legally sufficient and adequate TMDL for western Lake Erie. Citing the most recent National Climate Assessment, the groups asserted that a TMDL was “especially urgent” because algal blooms and nutrient pollution problems “are likely to be exacerbated by climate change.”