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EPA backs off Chesapeake Bay goals, CBF and elected officials fire back

| January 04, 2020, 04:58 PM

Rams Head

At the end of a two-day conference about the health of the Chesapeake Bay, the EPA’s Director of the Chesapeake Bay Program backed off the goals set for pollution reduction by 2025 saying that they were merely an aspiration and not enforceable.

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Rams Head

This position is a giant step backwards and environmental groups and elected leaders alike were swift to condemn it.

State Senator Sarah Elfreth

County Executive Steuart Pittman

On Friday, I spoke to the Chesapeake Bay Commission about Anne Arundel County’s efforts to help achieve a clean Chesapeake Bay. Later in the day, the Director of the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program told legislators from Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania that the Chesapeake Bay clean up plan is an “aspirational document” that is not enforceable. That statement was surprising and disappointing on many levels.

This is a time when we should be strengthening our commitment to our natural environment, not abandoning it. We must commit as a partnership of states and local governments to reduce pollution enough to guarantee clean water for our children and future generations to come.

If the federal government won’t lead this effort, then state and local governments must.

In Anne Arundel County, we are still in. And I invite the Chesapeake Bay governors and other local leaders to join us.

Together, we will send a message back to the EPA that we will not sacrifice our Bay-dependent local economies or our children’s environment when we have already come this far.

Mayor Gavin Buckley

On Friday, I spoke to the Chesapeake Bay Commission during their two-day Annapolis meeting about environmental initiatives the City is undertaking and our plans to keep the City safe from rising sea levels. On Saturday, I read in the newspaper that the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Director is stepping back from the goals that all Chesapeake Bay states are working toward.

The City of Annapolis is committed to continuing to do our part to clean up the Bay. In the city, we are increasing tree canopy, we have tightened requirements for stormwater management, we have improved wastewater treatment, we have applied, with Anne Arundel County, to designate our waters as a No Discharge Zone, and more.

It is my hope that  President Trump and EPA will see that policymakers and residents from Annapolis, and all around the Bay watershed, remain keenly interested in continuing our efforts to reduce pollution and restore the Chesapeake Bay.

From the start of this effort, we all understood that meeting Bay Clean-Up plan goals was not going to be easy.  That is why the plan built-in opportunities to report on progress, make adjustments and provide support as well as “backstops” to those states lagging behind in their share of the work.  The Clean-Up plan was never optional or “aspirational.’ It was and remains a necessity to save what President Obama so aptly described as “a national treasure.”

The Bay is a key driver for our Maryland economy and a big part of our culture and our way of life. The impact of a return to our old polluting ways is not acceptable and has a disproportionate impact on our most vulnerable populations. I urge the Administration to rethink this policy.

William C. Baker, President: Chesapeake Bay Foundation

For the head of EPA’s Bay Program to say pollution limits designed to save the Bay are merely aspirational and not legally enforceable should put fear in the hearts of all who care about clean water. The Clean Water Act requires that EPA set limits on pollution entering local rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay. In addition, a federal court has held that state plans developed to implement the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint must have reasonable assurance that they will succeed.

“In the past, EPA has said it will ensure that the state plans in place will do the job, and if not, it will impose consequences. This federal oversight has helped push the states to effect policy changes and invest substantial resources to try to restore local water quality as well as the Chesapeake Bay.

EPA’s retreat is yet another signal that the Administration does not value clean water and clean air. This position minimizes the significant financial and personal efforts some states, local governments, businesses, and individuals have taken to ensure that the Blueprint goals are met. If EPA does not fulfill its responsibilities to the region’s residents and the American public, the Bay will never be saved.

Rams Head

Category: Local News, NEWS, Post To FB

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