Proposal Calls For Pushing Bay Cleanup Deadline Back 10 Years

WASHINGTON (Sept. 24, 2008)—Representatives of the Chesapeake Bay states and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency tentatively agreed yesterday to more than double the rate of Bay cleanup over the next decade, while proposing to push the deadline back to 2020.

Information provided to the group by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation indicates that actions taken by the Bay states are currently on a trajectory of reaching the deadline by 2040 – three decades after the original goal of 2010.

“Doubling a snails pace is not something we should cheer about,” said William C Baker, President of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. “What they have done is delay by 10 years the current 2010 deadline for reducing pollution in the Bay.”

The proposed 2020 timeline came after Maryland, Virginia, the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania and the federal government last year agreed they will not meet their original goal, set in 2000, of cleaning up the Bay by 2010.

The new deadline of 2020 came despite the objections of Pennsylvania, whose representative said that with new computer modeling coming next spring, setting any end date for achieving necessary pollution reductions would be speculative.

The advisory group that met yesterday at the DC offices of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments is called the Chesapeake Bay Principals’ Staff Committee. The committee is made up of 26 environmental officials and others from Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Chesapeake Bay Commission.

The committee’s advice will be passed on to the governors of the Bay states, as well as the mayor of Washington DC, the administrator of the U.S. EPA, and the chair of the Bay Commission. These top officials will consider the new deadline in a meeting of the Chesapeake Bay Executive Council scheduled for Nov. 20.

Beth McGee, senior scientist for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, said that the Bay could meet the 2010 cleanup goal by 2015 if the states got much more serious about implementing pollution reduction strategies.

“We appreciate the efforts of Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania to set new pollution limits and invest in upgrades for their sewage treatment plants, and expect to see tangible benefits over the next three to four years,” Baker said. “But CBF believes that the state and federal governments must be held accountable to reduce runoff from farms and developed lands, as well as pollution from the air, and that programs and funding must be in place by 2010 to achieve 80 percent of the pollution reduction goal by 2012. The PSC did agree with CBF’s request that they set short-term deadlines and consequences for missing them, though they have not as of yet set any specifics.”

“Investing in clean water is also an investment in local economies, paying dividends by creating jobs, increasing recreational opportunities, and improving the quality of life,” Baker said.

Source: Chesapeake Bay Foundation

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