Thursday, August 29, 2019

Maryland Governor Calls For Action, Accountability On PA's Plan To Reduce Water Pollution Going To Chesapeake Bay

On August 29, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, chairman of the Chesapeake Executive Council, sent a letter to Gov. Tom Wolf and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler calling for action on Pennsylvania’s lack of progress on clean water goals. 
As part of his commitment to skilled environmental partnership and stewardship, Gov. Hogan has called on upstream states, such as Pennsylvania, to take responsibility for pollution that pours into the Chesapeake Bay.
“With the recent release of the final Watershed Implementation Plans (WIP) to restore the Chesapeake Bay by 2025, Maryland continues to have alarming concerns regarding Pennsylvania’s progress on clean water,” wrote Gov. Hogan. “The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s final WIP falls far short of the federally established nitrogen goal by only achieving 73 percent of the required reduction. Pennsylvania’s plan also includes a troubling funding gap of over $300 million annually.”
He also says in the letter, “We urgently need a more complete and comprehensive commitment from Pennsylvania, as well as a clear and robust demonstration from the Environmental Protection Agency that appropriate oversight powers will be used to maintain our momentum.”
Gov. Hogan’s letter comes ahead of next week’s meeting of the Chesapeake Executive Council, which consists of the governors of the six watershed states, the mayor of the District of Columbia, the chair of the Chesapeake Bay Commission, and the EPA administrator. 
The governor is calling on the EPA to use the oversight powers it has to hold states accountable for meeting Bay restoration goals.
“As Governor of Maryland and Chair of the Chesapeake Executive Council, I have repeatedly offered to help Pennsylvania rally the necessary financial and regulatory support to fully achieve our shared goals,” said the Governor. “We urgently need a more complete and comprehensive commitment from Pennsylvania, as well as a clear and robust demonstration from the Environmental Protection Agency that appropriate oversight powers will be used to maintain our momentum.”
Maryland’s final Chesapeake Bay clean-up plan, submitted on August 23, 2019, was developed to meet our pollution reduction targets by 2025 as part of a multi-state bay restoration effort. The Hogan administration continues to lead on environmental conservation in the region, with a focus on the watershed, by committing a record $5 billion toward wide-ranging Bay restoration initiatives.
Reaction - Gov. Wolf
J.J. Abbott, a spokesman for Gov Wolf was quoted by the Washington Post as saying, Pennsylvania has made great strides in improving local water quality by investing in best practices and working with conservation and agriculture sectors. The state is addressing a huge area that spans over 15,000 miles (24,140 kilometers) of impaired streams, 33,000 farms and 350 municipalities, he wrote in an email.
“Over 1,000 Pennsylvanians — farmers, foresters, academics, local municipal and community leaders, environmental advocates, and state government agencies — contributed their expertise to our plan,” Abbott wrote.
Abbott also noted that Wolf proposed farm legislation approved by lawmakers this year that makes a $23 million investment with new conservation funding [actually it was $6 million, and $16 million was cut that could have funded 32,000 acres of riparian forest buffers], with priorities to be given to counties in the bay’s watershed.
“Pennsylvania is committed to having projects and practices in place by 2025 to attain our goals and meet our requirements in full,” Abbott wrote.
Reaction - CBF
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation said it is supportive of Gov. Hogan’s effort to pressure Pennsylvania and the U.S. Environmental Protection to ensure Pennsylvania meets required 2025 Chesapeake Bay cleanup goals.
In response to Gov. Hogan’s letter, CBF President William Baker issued the following statement:
“I commend Gov. Hogan for pushing the EPA Administrator and the Governor of Pennsylvania to fix and fund the Commonwealth’s deficient plan. Pennsylvania remains the broken link in the Bay cleanup chain. Pennsylvania’s Legislature and Governor have repeatedly failed to fully invest in pollution reduction. In addition, EPA is not using its oversight powers to hold the Commonwealth accountable.  
“The EC must ensure that both Pennsylvania and the federal agencies create dedicated funding to help Pennsylvania farmers reduce pollution to their waters and the Bay downstream. If the plan still falls short and funding is not identified, EPA must hold Pennsylvania accountable.”
CBF’s own analysis of Pennsylvania’s latest Clean Water Blueprint, known formally as the watershed implementation plan, found it to be more than 25 percent short of reaching its nitrogen pollution reduction goal. Pennsylvania’s Blueprint also faces an estimated annual funding gap of more than $320 million. The majority of the state’s pollution is generated from agriculture operations. 
Cleaning up Pennsylvania’s waterways is important to the Commonwealth’s culture, heritage, and economy. Hunting and fishing are the Commonwealth’s second largest industry, supporting 390,000 jobs. In addition, fully implementing the Pennsylvania Blueprint will provide more than $6 billion in natural benefits to the Commonwealth annually.
Together, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia contribute about 90 percent of the pollution that enters the Bay. As Pennsylvania lags, Maryland and Virginia’s plans are on track to reach their pollution reduction goals.
Given Pennsylvania’s deficient plan, CBF has urged the EPA to require the Commonwealth to achieve its goals or impose consequences.
(Photo: Muddy Susquehanna River just below Harrisburg carry sediment and nutrients to the Chesapeake Bay after a series of summer rain storms.)
Related Articles:
Related Articles This Week:

No comments :

Post a Comment

Subscribe To Receive Updates:

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner