The Office of the Attorney General and AquaLaw PLC won a major court challenge today against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) attempts to regulate storm water as a pollutant in the Accotink Creek watershed in Fairfax County. Last July Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, representing the Virginia Department of Transportation and Fairfax County, asked the court to declare the EPA's action unlawful because it exceeded the EPA's statutory authority under the Clean Water Act. Today, the court agreed that the EPA exceeded its clearly limited statutory authority and granted VDOT and Fairfax County's motion for a judgment on the pleadings.
Speaking about the ruling, Governor Bob McDonnell said, "The Commonwealth has just saved taxpayers an estimated more than $300 million by prevailing in a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for unlawfully attempting to regulate water itself as a pollutant. The EPA tried to regulate water as a pollutant in the Accotink Creek watershed. This would have required the Virginia Department of Transportation to spend at least an additional $70 million to retrofit its existing facilities and redesign new projects to comply with the regulations. Fairfax County would have had to spend more than $300 million to comply with the EPA mandate. Over time the regulation would have impacted numerous other projects, costing even more and having a negative impact on future job creation.
Protecting the environment is of the utmost importance to our Administration. Since taking office we've conserved over 120,000 acres of open space and we are continuing to make major progress in the longstanding, bipartisan effort to improve the health and vitality of the Chesapeake Bay. The Commonwealth adheres to very stringent standards to keep our waterways clean. Virginia major wastewater facilities exceeded pollution reduction goals in 2011 by more than 2,000 percent for nitrogen and more than 450 percent for phosphorus. In fact, in Virginia's activities in 2011 prevented 2.5 million pounds of nitrogen from entering streams and lakes. However, regulating water flow through unnecessary mandates is unlawful and wasteful and penalizes Virginia taxpayers while creating an undue burden for the Commonwealth.
This ruling today is a testament to Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's good work to fight back on economically harmful, and unnecessary, regulations. The ruling will save millions of dollars now and much more in the future. It is a positive victory for the taxpayers of Virginia."