Maryland Meets With EPA & State Representatives To Address Bay Restoration Shortcomings

A July 23, 2015, Baltimore Sun article reported that representatives from the federal government and six Chesapeake Bay watershed states (including Maryland) recently met to discuss how to increase their pollution reduction and restoration efforts.  These efforts are required both under the 2014 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement and the federally mandated Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL).  As previously reported on Conduit Street, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that  the Maryland region is likely to fail to meet its 2017 pollution reduction goals for nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment under the Bay TMDL.  The TMDL is a component of the broader watershed agreement, which also considers issues like habitat restoration, toxic pollutants, and climate change.

The article noted that the representatives approved a set of 25 management strategies to help met the restoration goals contained in the watershed agreement. The representatives also acknowledged that while good progress has been made, restoration efforts are beyond schedule. From the article:

“We have made tremendous progress. We have many challenges that lie ahead,” said Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who presided over the gathering. …

[EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy] added that the effort is “systemically” falling short in other ways, particularly in reducing urban and farm runoff pollution. She pledged that her agency would be “aggressive” over the next several months in pushing the states to outline how they intend to get back on track. …

[Maryland Lt. Governor Boyd] Rutherford also announced that bay leaders had agreed to convene a “summit” next year on alternative ways to pay for the multibillion-dollar bay restoration effort, including pollution trading and other market-based cleanup initiatives.

The article noted that Pennsylvania, whose efforts are lagging behind those of other Bay states, remains a key concern and that Pennsylvania representative acknowledged his state’s challenge:

John Quigley, Pennsylvania’s secretary of environmental protection, acknowledged that what the state has done to date is “clearly not enough,” but said Gov. Tom Wolf inherited the cleanup shortfall when he took office in January. Quigley said the administration is working on a plan to “reboot” the state’s bay restoration effort and pledged to unveil it soon. …

Alluding to criticism [Maryland Governor Larry] Hogan has leveled at Pennsylvania for not doing enough to deal with its pollution, Rutherford mentioned the administration’s concerns about the sediment buildup behind Conowingo Dam and suggested that finding other ways to pay for the bay restoration “can help some of our upstream partners.”

Finally, the article noted that not all attendees were satisfied with the meeting’s outcomes:

William C. Baker, president of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, expressed frustration after the meeting, saying: “I heard way too much happy talk. … There was very little discussion about pollution.”

July 23, 2015 Coverage from WTOP 103.5 FM