EPA pushing states to cleanup Chesapeake Bay: report

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Friday threatened to go after five mid-Atlantic states with rules that could lead to higher sewer bills and stricter conditions on construction unless they cut pollution flowing into the Chesapeake Bay.

The Washington Post reported in its Saturday edition that the EPA told Virginia, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Delaware and New York that their plans to cut pollution contained “serious deficiencies.”

The EPA said some states are lagging behind a 2025 deadline to cut pollution, and those that move too slowly could see measures that may lead to higher property taxes or new rules for farms.

The five states together account for more than 70 percent of the pollution that causes “dead zones” in the bay.

The enforcement warning comes after the EPA set deadlines to cut pollution by 2000 and 2010, and then failed to crack down after states missed the deadlines, the Post said.

Federal and state governments have spent more than $5 billion trying to clean up the bay that is home to commercial quantities of fish, crabs and oysters.

Pollutants such as nitrogen and phosphorus flow into the bay from treated sewage, fertilizer and animal manure, leading to unnatural algae blooms, and using up oxygen needed by other inhabitants.

Writing by Christopher Doering; Editing by Eric Walsh