While a U.S. Supreme Court decision on whether to consider a legal challenge filed against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's total maximum daily load, or TMDL, in the Chesapeake Bay region, a new poll conducted on behalf of the American Farm Bureau Federation finds the majority of Bay area landowners surveyed want water quality issues dealt with on a local level.
According to a news release from AFBF, nearly 75% of residents polled in the watershed say state and local government authority of water resources should trump federal authority.
"When health, safety and environmental regulations are needed, nearly half say they trust state and local governments, compared to only 28% who trust the federal government," according to AFBF, the agriculture interest group that filed the legal challenge.
The Morning Consult poll conducted Jan. 21-22 of 1,042 registered voters who reside within the watershed, examined voter opinion on a range of EPA issues for the Chesapeake Bay that sets strict federal limits across the region for local land uses such as farming, forestry and development.
"Residents of the Chesapeake Bay region believe their local governments should have authority when it comes to protecting their water, and, understandably, they trust state and local authorities much more than they do the federal government," said Ellen Steen, general counsel for AFBF.
Farm bureau has asked the Supreme Court to review the EPA rule, which it believes to be unlawful, in the case American Farm Bureau Federation v. EPA.
According to the poll, 48% of respondents said that when health, safety and environmental regulations are needed, they trust state and local governments more than the federal government. Twenty-eight percent said they would trust the federal government more. When it comes to ensuring the quality of rivers, streams and creeks, 74% indicated state and local communities should be primarily responsible and only 18% said the federal government should have primary responsibility.
More than three in four respondents (77%) said local or state governments should be most responsible for regulating how people use land or produce food. Only 14% favored the federal government.
While six in 10 voters familiar with the EPA's regulations initially expressed their support, after being informed of how the rules might affect them locally, that support plummeted to just 39%, with 45% of the voters opposing them.
"In these days when people place a high value on local food, 62% of the respondents said they were less likely to support the EPA's Bay regulations because they would put a number of local farmers out of business due to restrictions and high regulatory costs," Steen said.
"That's what this rule is all about; imposing federal restrictions that will make it impossible for many local farmers to continue to farm in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. We all support better water quality in the Bay, but people living in the watershed care about local farmers, jobs and communities, too. There are better, more affordable and less intrusive ways for states to take the lead and get this important job done that also save room in the watershed for the people producing local food."
Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus 3%. The interviews were conducted online and the data were weighted to approximate a target sample of registered voters based on age, race, gender and educational attainment.
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