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Ask the Supervisor: Fairfax County v. EPA

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust answers questions submitted by Patch readers.

Question:   In July 2012, the County joined with the State of Virginia to sue the United States Environmental Protection Agency claiming that the EPA exceeded its authority to regulate stormwater in the Accotink Creek watershed. Why were you the only Supervisor to vote against filing the lawsuit?

Response:   As I explained at the time the decision was made, I supported the County filing a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency with respect to the Accotink Creek regulations. I believe the EPA overreached and, if left unchallenged, the result would be significant and unnecessary costs imposed on County taxpayers with minimal environmental benefits.

My issue was not with the County’s decision to file a lawsuit to challenge the EPA’s position. Rather, I did not agree with the County’s decision to join with the Virginia Department of Transportation as co-plaintiffs in a suit. In my judgment, the County could have had a stronger case, and significantly more control over the resolution of the case, if it had filed its own lawsuit. At a minimum, I felt that before a joint suit was filed, the County should have had an agreement in place with the State that established the County’s rights with respect to prosecuting and negotiating resolution of the lawsuit. I was concerned by the State Attorney General’s previous efforts to politicize litigation against the federal government. I felt the County’s case against the EPA should be decided on the merits and that, if it was, the County would win. I did not believe the County needed to take the risk that someone we could not control might attempt to politicize our lawsuit.

Do you have a question for Supervisor Foust? You can submit it below in the comments section or contact his office directly via email, dranesville@fairfaxcounty.gov, or by phone, 703-356-0551.

Bob T January 15, 2013 at 12:08 PM
A question for Mr. Foust: You say the main reason you wanted the county to file a separate lawsuit was that the Attorney General politicized a previous lawsuit filed against the Frederal government. Please expand: Which case was this and how do you believe out was politicized?
Dave Webster January 17, 2013 at 06:59 PM
I want to thank the Supervisor for answering my question. The EPA regulations in question were struck down by a Federal Judge subsequent to my question being asked. (opinion attached to article.) First, Mr. Foust doesn’t explain why he was the only Supervisor to vote against the lawsuit. The chief, and perhaps only, reason Mr. Foust voted against the lawsuit was his belief that Ken Cuccinelli had initiated politically motivated cases in the past. However, this case was obviously not politically motivated. Chairman Sharon Bulova said she believed in putting aside partisan politics and that joining the state in the legal action was necessary to strengthen the lawsuit against the EPA. Mr. Foust’s concerns with the “control over the resolution of the case” are a red herring. Ken Cuccinelli would never have been empowered to settle the case in a manner that Fairfax County objected to. If it came to pass that Fairfax County objected to the way the case was being handled then, at that point in time, Fairfax could have hired its own attorneys.
Dave Webster January 17, 2013 at 06:59 PM
The more likely reason for Mr. Foust’s actions was that he knew the lawsuit was going to be approved by all the other Supervisors and he deliberately voted against the suit to make points with Democratic constituents as being the only Supervisor willing to stand up to Ken Cuccinelli. This is exactly the type of partisan politics that Sharon Bulova, and the other Democratic members of the Board, put aside. They put the interests of Fairfax County taxpayers first. Why didn’t Mr. Foust?

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