Chesapeake Bay and Nonpoint Source Programs / TMDLs

The Environmental Policy Initiative is tracking the environmental regulatory rollbacks of the Trump administration. Click here for the list of rules we are following

Why it Matters

The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the US. Pollution from agriculture and urban runoff has impaired Chesapeake water quality, damaging its fisheries and recreational and natural value.

Current Status

Federally coordinated restoration efforts are funded through December 8, 2017. The program is uncertain after that; the Trump budget proposes eliminating funding for fiscal year (FY) 2018.


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load – a numerical limit on the amount of pollution that can enter the water) for the Chesapeake Bay on December 29, 2010 to address nutrient pollution.

On January 11, 2011 the Farm Bureau challenged the TMDL in federal court in Pennsylvania. On September 13, 2013 the court rejected the challenge and upheld EPA’s TMDL. –American Farm Bureau v. EPA, No. 11-0067

On July 6, 2015 the Third Circuit appeals court unanimously upheld the ruling.

On February 29, 2016 the Supreme Court denied the Farm Bureau’s request to hear the case, leaving the TMDL in place.

Trump Era

On March 16, 2017 President Trump’s proposed 2018 EPA Budget eliminated funding for the Bay cleanup activities needed to meet the TMDL.

On May 5, 2017 the President signed a budget to fund the federal government through September 30, 2017, with the Chesapeake funding restored.

On September 8, 2017, the President signed a deal to extend federal funding through December 8, 2017. The FY18 funding battle remains in play.

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