Five Reasons Why the Chesapeake Bay Program Is Critical to Saving the Bay

  Kramer_George__40702492_ChincoteagueDuskPhoto by George Kramer.

Last week, the Trump Administration issued a preliminary budget that eliminates all funding for the Chesapeake Bay Program (CBP), a critical part of the state/federal partnership to restore the Bay and its rivers and streams.

But what exactly does the Chesapeake Bay Program do, and how does potentially gutting it affect the health of the Bay?

The CBP is an unusual entity. It's an arm of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), but also a partnership of federal, state, and local agencies involved in the work of restoring the Chesapeake Bay, as well as a host of academic and non-profit partners. You can think of it as a large and diverse group working together, organized and partially funded by EPA. And it is responsible for hundreds of actions in the field that help Save the Bay, from rebuilding wetlands, to restoring oyster beds, and so much more.

That leads me to the Five Reasons the Chesapeake Bay Program Is Critical to Saving the Bay:

  1. It's working! At a time when we seem increasingly at odds about how to solve complex problems such as health care or terrorism, the unique collaboration to restore the Chesapeake is making concrete progress. Less pollution is entering the Bay, underwater grasses are thriving in certain areas, the dead zones of low oxygen are shrinking. The crab population is healthy. Even oysters are enjoying a modest comeback. But the recovery is fragile. The Bay Program is the glue holding it all together.

  2. The Program is really a family affair with partners sharing the wealth. The majority of its $73 million annual budget is distributed to the partner states, local governments, colleges, and non-profits for the work they do. They plant trees along streams, build "green infrastructure" in cities and suburbs to slow down and soak up polluted runoff, and help restore and protect oyster reefs. They increase public access to waterways, create habitat for crabs and rockfish, and work with farmers to reduce pollution from manure and fertilizer. The list goes on.

  3. We have the best scientific information and tools, thanks to the Chesapeake Bay Program. Like a sick patient, the Bay needs a scientific diagnosis and treatment. The Bay Program is the doctor of the Chesapeake. It coordinates the monitoring of water quality, the computer modeling of Bay health and progress, and the rest of the science. Eliminating the program would be like throwing away the patient's medical records.

  4. The partnership helps keep six states and the District of Columbia on track to meet their obligations in the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint. This is the regional plan to restore the Bay. After several decades of failed attempts to meet restoration goals, the jurisdictions agreed in 2010 to hold themselves accountable for reducing pollution in amounts set by science, and to report on their progress every two years. This accountability mechanism is working, with nitrogen pollution falling in nine main tributaries. Eliminate the Bay Program and you could stop this progress.

  5. The Bay Program takes the broad view. Its scientists and planners can see, for instance, how the entire region is developing, and inform individual states for their own land protection strategies. This is especially important for areas downstream of development, since pollution is likely to increase from growth. The Program also tracks how the region is doing to restore fisheries, and the habitat that crabs, fish, and oysters need. In an ecosystem of 64,000 square miles, it is critical to know how the whole system is functioning. No state alone can do this—only the Chesapeake Bay Program.

The Chesapeake Bay Program has been called a model of cooperative federalism, the system of government established in the American Constitution. It is the federal and state governments working together to solve a regional problem. Rather than eliminate it, we should be supporting it.

—Tom Zolper, CBF's Assistant Director of Media Relations

To say that now is the Chesapeake Bay's moment in time has never been more true. Take action right now to urge Congress to reject the Trump Administration’s budget proposal and protect our Bay and rivers and streams.

 


Leave Chesapeake Bay Oyster Sanctuaries Alone

The following first appeared in the Daily Times.

In the current hostile political climate, we can't seem to agree on any government policy.

But that's exactly what happened in Maryland this past month. A poll found about 90 percent of Maryland voters, across party lines, want the state to protect oyster sanctuaries.

The bipartisan poll was conducted by two polling companies, one Republican, one Democratic.

Oyster-Poll-FB-Link-Post-Art-1"This is about as overwhelming as you can get on any public policy issue," said Lori Weigel, a pollster with the Republican firm, Public Opinion Strategies.

There's just one problem. The future of Maryland oyster sanctuaries is at risk. A proposal presented by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to the Maryland Oyster Advisory Commission (OAC) would open up a net of nearly 1,000 acres of oyster sanctuaries to be harvested.

Maryland established the sanctuaries years ago as an insurance policy for the future of the oyster population in the Chesapeake Bay.

Fifty-one of these areas are scattered throughout the Maryland portion of the Chesapeake Bay. They represent a quarter of all oyster reefs.

In these underwater nurseries oysters can grow large, and reproduce. At least until now.

Opening the sanctuaries for harvest would be a major policy change for Maryland. DNR Secretary Mark Belton emphasized to a legislative committee recently that the proposal is preliminary.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation adamantly opposes any reduction in the oyster sanctuaries. So do 29 other conservation groups that signed a letter in opposition, which was submitted to DNR and the OAC, whose members are appointed by DNR.

The oyster harvest industry favors harvesting in sanctuaries. The number of licensed harvesters has doubled in recent years, and the industry wants more places to work. About three-quarters of the oyster reefs in Maryland already are open to harvest.

Nevertheless, the industry has proposed harvesting once every four years in some nurseries, the idea being that oysters would be allowed to grow in the years in between.

The current oyster population in the Chesapeake is estimated to be less than 1 percent of its historic size. The population has been devastated by overharvesting, water pollution, and disease.

Scientists say the sanctuaries are critical to safeguard against the unthinkable – losing the last remaining oysters in the Chesapeake – and to reverse the fate of the iconic bivalve.

Following those warnings, the state increased the area of sanctuary reefs in 2010 from 9 percent to 24 percent. At the same time, the state loosened regulations on oyster farming to help watermen increase their livelihoods.

The current policy is working.

A DNR report this past July concluded oysters are thriving in many of the sanctuary reefs. And oyster farming has surged, bringing added income to many watermen.
We must leave well enough alone.

Oyster-Poll-FB-Link-Post-Art-2The healthy sanctuary reefs are ecological engines of replenishment. Larvae from oysters on these reefs can float for miles, and then settle on more barren reefs, including those open to harvest.

The oysters on sanctuaries develop resistance to the periodic bouts of disease that flare up when water salinity increases, and spread that resistance to other reefs.

Given time, these reefs will grow vertically by many feet. Oyster reefs around the bay used to be so tall, colonial ships would go aground.

But centuries of harvesting and other assaults have collapsed the reefs into oyster "beds" – structures easily covered up by silt. Leaving sanctuary reefs alone will allow them to rise above this perpetual problem.

Permitting even occasional harvesting in these protected areas destroys the vertical growth, removes the large disease resistant oysters, and kills the nursery function.

Oysters can play a vital role in restoring the bay to health. Undisturbed oyster reefs are habitat for fish and other sea life. They also can filter millions of gallons of water – for no charge.

These structures literally can provide the building blocks of a restored Chesapeake Bay.

Marylanders are saying in no uncertain terms: Protect oyster sanctuaries.

—Alison Prost, CBF Maryland Executive Director

Take action right now to urge Maryland legislators to protect oyster sanctuaries and the value they provide to clean water and countless marine species.


Chesapeake Bay's Future Imperiled

The following first appeared in The Virginian-Pilot.

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An algal bloom in Norfolk's Lafayette River. The health of the Bay and its rivers and streams is improving, but if draconian cuts to the Chesapeake Bay Program are enacted, scenes such as this might become the norm. Photo by Christy Everett/CBF Staff.

I'm angry and I'm upset. President Donald Trump has proposed something terrible. I'm not willing to trade a healthy Chesapeake Bay for a wall on the Mexican border.

Trump's budget proposal zeroes out the EPA's funding for the Chesapeake Bay Program: from $73 million to $0. You don't have to take my word for this: Please read the president's statement at the top of "America First, A Budget Blueprint to make America Great Again," then skip to page 41.

The Chesapeake Bay is a national treasure.

In the late 1970s, headlines declared that the bay was dying. Since then, government at all levels, business, and individuals have rolled up their sleeves and worked hard to "Save the Bay."

The effort has been bipartisan and, when tested in federal court, declared a model of cooperative federalism. It's working. The bay is recovering, but our progress is fragile, and the Chesapeake is far from saved.

The road to recovery, while clearly laid out, will not be easy and needs strong federal participation. The EPA Bay Program makes grants to states and municipalities to reduce pollution, monitors water quality, and coordinates the state/federal partnership that is the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint. The bay program's participation is absolutely essential.

Fortunately, there are checks and balances in our government. Congress appropriates and passes the budget, and we have time between now and the new fiscal year (which starts on Oct. 1) to make sure Congress restores funding for the bay.

Those of us fortunate enough to live in Hampton Roads have a deep connection to the environment. The James, Nansemond, Elizabeth, and the Lynnhaven Rivers and the Chesapeake Bay flow back and forth into each other.

We cross bridges and crawl through tunnels to get from one place to another. The water defines us.

We have celebrated recent signs of recovery in our waters. Oysters and crabs are rebounding, lush beds of underwater grasses thrive in some areas, and the water was so clear last summer that you could see the bottom six to eight feet below the surface. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation's most recent State of the Bay Report gave the estuary its highest score in the report's 18-year history. But, that score, a C-, is a stark reminder that much work remains.

The bay's nascent recovery comes after years of hard work. In his 1984 State of the Union address, President Ronald Reagan said, "Though this is a time of budget constraints, I have requested for EPA one of the largest percentage budget increases of any agency. We will begin the long, necessary effort to clean up a productive recreational area and a special national resource — the Chesapeake Bay."

Since then, every administration has worked with the states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed (from Cooperstown, N.Y., to Virginia Beach), the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and many similar organizations to "Save the Bay."

Trump's proposed budget zeroing out the EPA's bay program is an outrage. If passed by Congress, this could drive a stake in the heart of the Chesapeake's recovery.

Cuts to the EPA program could cause the bay and our rivers to revert to the national disgrace they were in the 1980s: fouled waters, sickly fish populations, and threats to human health. Zeroing out efforts to assist in restoring the Chesapeake Bay in favor of a wall makes no sense.

This is important. Please join me in sending a serious message to Congress that the Chesapeake Bay is a priority for Hampton Roads and the states all around the bay.

This is not about politics, it's about being good stewards of our environment. It's not about negotiating; it's a moral issue.

For assistance in contacting your congressional delegation please go to www.cbf.org/findmyreps.

—Harry Lester, Chairman, CBF Board of Trustees

More than 8,000 Bay lovers have taken action by calling on Congress to stand up for the Chesapeake Bay watershed. If you have not yet signed our petition, please do so now. If you have already, thank you. Please be sure to go one step further and call your congressional representatives. Click here to find their phone numbers. A clean and healthy Bay now and for generations to come depends on your voice!


Yard Make-Over at No Cost

The following first appeared in The Talbot Spy.

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Rain gardens help reduce polluted runoff, a major contributor to poor water quality.

Residents of Cambridge, this spring you can win an unusual prize: a yard make-over at no cost. And in the process you can help clean up the waters around the city, and the Chesapeake Bay. Oh, and everybody gets a free 'rain barrel.'

The whole idea is the brainchild of the Cambridge Clean Water Advisory Committee. The group wants to encourage practical, low-cost activities that can improve water quality in the city.

The process is simple. Interested residents must first attend a workshop that's happening at the Dorchester County Public Library in Cambridge, Wednesday, March 22, 5:30-7:00 p.m. You will receive information about what possible changes could be made in your yard that treat polluted runoff.

For instance, "rain gardens" are a type of beautiful garden that also soaks up rain running off your property. This is helpful because this runoff often contains pollution from the air or the landscape. The pollution usually ends up in local creeks. You won't make any commitments at the workshops, just learn about possibilities for a make-over.

If you're still interested, next you will receive a free visit after the workshop from a professional landscaper who will look at your yard, talk with you, and come up with ideas such as rain gardens, native plants, pavement removal, and other possible modifications best suited for your yard.

You'll pay nothing for the make-over if you are selected. Only five properties will be chosen in the first year of the two-year program. In the second year, financial support drops from 100 percent to 90 percent as a way to encourage early participation.

Both homeowners and renters are eligible to enroll. Those of limited means are particularly encouraged to step forward as the project is intended, in part, to respond to needs in under-served communities. A community survey accessible online here will further help reveal how much people know about water quality and ways to improve it. All survey respondents are eligible to enter to win a $40 Jimmie & Sooks Raw Bar and Grill gift card.

Pre-registration is required to attend the workshop on March 22nd. Each workshop participant will receive a free rain barrel and instructions on how to install it. For more information and to register, contact Hilary Gibson at 410-543-1999 or hgibson@cbf.org.

Fertilizers, soil, oil, grease, and other contaminants run off private property when it rains. Until now, cities such as Cambridge have been left with the responsibility to deal with this problem. It's difficult and expensive, especially to manage runoff from private property.

The work in Cambridge seeks to treat runoff before it becomes the city's responsibility. Recognizing the burden of treating runoff once it reaches the city's drainage system, the Cambridge Clean Water Advisory Committee of private and public partners stepped in to try to demonstrate how runoff volumes and contaminants can be reduced before that point. Funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation was awarded to pilot a program that offers homeowners and renters incentives to install native plantings, swales and other practices that naturally filter runoff on private property – minimizing runoff volumes and pollutants for the city to handle later.

—Alan Girard, CBF Director of Maryland Eastern Shore


Tell Your Legislators You Support Efforts to Clean up Water, Bay

The following first appeared in the Bay Journal.

HeartThe Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Blueprint is working. By all metrics we are seeing progress. Citizens, businesses, and governments are working together to reduce pollution. You can actually see the progress in the clear water.

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science's Bay Report Card issued last spring, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's 2016 State of the Bay report, and the Bay Program's Bay Barometer all document improvements. Bay grasses and crabs are up, and the dead zone is trending smaller. While celebrating progress, no one thinks the Bay is saved. Far from it. And, no doubt the recovery we do enjoy is fragile.

In these uncertain times, it is more important than ever that citizens of all walks of life let their elected officials know that the need for clean water is a shared value and important priority. Cleaning up local rivers and streams will reduce risks to human health, create jobs, and benefit local economies.

We must insist that our state legislators make the needed investments to reduce pollution; that our governors speak up for the Blueprint; and that our federal representatives ensure the Environmental Protection Agency's full participation in guiding and implementing the Blueprint.

Elected officials do listen to their constituents.

In early February, more than 50 citizens attended a lobby day at the General Assembly in Richmond supporting the CBF, James River Association, Lynnhaven River NOW, and other clean water allies.

Liz Worsham and her husband, Brad, traveled 70 miles from the Northern Neck to Richmond to meet with their state legislators. "We are concerned about clean water because we like to swim in our creek, for starters, and kayak and fish. My husband hunts. It's really important for the businesses in the area and for the watermen," Liz Worsham said. "This is a great opportunity to have an impact and express my views to my representatives."

The most effective way to be heard is to visit a politician in his or her office or to speak up at a town hall meeting. Politicians will take note.

Other effective ways are to write your representatives or call their district offices.

In these uncertain times, two facts are certain. One: The desire for clean water unites us, regardless of age or political persuasion. Two: Elected officials need voter support. We can make a difference.

I urge all Bay Journal readers to go on the record — our job of restoring the Chesapeake and its rivers and streams is far from done. We must push forward.

—Elizabeth Buckman, CBF Vice President of Communications

Click here to learn about what you can do right now to support clean water across our region.


One-For-One Replanting Bill Will Help Preserve Maryland's Forests

The following first appeared in the Frederick News-Post.

Black-trees
Photo by Justin Black/iLCP

Pit a bulldozer against a tree and the tree rarely wins. But for four years, fiscal 2007 to 2011, Frederick County found a way to stem the loss of forests to new development: insist that an acre be planted for every acre cut down.

It was a sensible move that saved county residents money and protected local rivers and creeks.

Forests are natural sponges. A forest soaks up tens of thousands of gallons of water during a rain storm, and thousands of tons of carbon dioxide from the air.

Without forests, runoff from storms flows into and pollutes local streams. We expect Frederick realized how expensive it is to fix that problem. It made sense not to lose any more forests than necessary.

What if forests were cut down and taxpayers had to pay to plant rain gardens and other devices to soak up the runoff forests used to hold? How much would that cost? A 2015 study by the Low Impact Development Center in Beltsville concluded that Prince George's forest reduces polluted runoff by 4.3 billion gallons a year in the county, a service worth $12.8 billion annually.

Frederick County has more forest than Prince George's. So the benefits could be worth even more.

Frederick County's 2007 action set standards higher than minimal state requirements for how much builders have to replant if they cut down forest on a development site. The state Forest Conservation Act requires builders only to replant one acre for every four cut down. Frederick's ordinance required one acre replanted for one acre cleared.

The results were immediate. While other counties continued to lose forests at alarming rates, Frederick actually planted more acres of forest — 424 acres — than developers cut down from 2008 to 2011.

Save forests. Save money. And protect clean water and air.

Then, suddenly in 2011 the next Board of Commissioners repealed the replanting ordinance. Since that repeal, forest loss in Frederick County has increased, according to annual reports the county submits to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, although other aspects of the county's FCA program have encouraged a relatively high replanting rate.

Now, only neighboring Carroll County has the one-to-one replanting requirement. Not surprisingly, Carroll is the only county where forests are actually increasing, according to the DNR data.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation believes this is unfortunate. Thankfully, legislation in the Maryland General Assembly this session, (Senate Bill 365/House Bill 599), offers a solution. It would strengthen the FCA by requiring one-for-one replanting across the state. The bill effectively mimics what Frederick County successfully did locally in 2007 — before the repeal.

The state legislation also would give counties the option to charge a builder more who wants to clear more forest and not replant. Currently, developers often avoid replanting by paying a small fee that doesn't always cover the cost of replacement.

Frederick County Senator Ron Young is the lead sponsor in the Senate. We urge all Frederick County residents who value trees to support these bills.

—Erik Fisher, CBF's Maryland Assistant Director

Speak for the trees! Send a message to your legislators today letting them know you want them to support strengthening the Forest Conservation Act.


Stand up for Clean Water

The following first appeared in the York Dispatch.

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Rock Run in Pennsylvania's Lycoming County. Photo by Neil Ever Osborne/iLCP.

Now is the time for Pennsylvanians to stand up for clean water and let elected officials know they should make reducing pollution a higher priority.

Tell legislators considering budgets at the state and federal levels to follow-through with more investments in clean water that protect the health, livelihood, and economic welfare of every Pennsylvanian and those downstream.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation's (CBF) State of the Bay report indicates that the Clean Water Blueprint is improving the health of the Chesapeake Bay, but Pennsylvania's efforts lag far behind the other principle Bay states.

Unfortunately, the message hasn't changed much in recent years. Roughly 19,000 miles of the Keystone State's rivers and streams are harmed by pollution.

Agriculture is the leading source of water pollution, so Pennsylvania needs more acres of stream-side trees, fewer cattle in the streams, and healthier soils. But at the state level, Pennsylvania's investments in pollution reduction are an affront to all who care about safe water.

The proposed budget for fiscal year 2017-18 is the second consecutive plan since the Commonwealth committed to a new clean water strategy that does not include adequate investments in the right places and on the right practices to ensure Blueprint success.

General Fund support for the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has been cut by $94 million since 2002-03 and the agency has 800 fewer staff members.

Pennsylvania's investments in Growing Greener programs that support conservation districts, stream restoration, stormwater efforts and more, have gone down 75 percent in the last 16 years.

Reduced financial support for DEP, the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, seriously threatens their abilities to assure public health and provide clean water that is the right of every Pennsylvanian.

The Environmental Protection Agency notified the DEP, and it should be a warning to Pennsylvanians, that because it lacks resources, the agency cannot enforce minimum federal safe drinking water regulations.

In addition to increasing support through in the General Fund, we urge state lawmakers to pursue additional sources of revenue, so the Commonwealth can meet the commitment it made to its citizens to help restore and protect our rivers and streams.

Ninety percent of Pennsylvanians who responded to a 2015 Penn State University survey said they support investments in saving clean water, forests, and farms.

Investments in federal Farm Bill programs also play a critical role in the ability of Pennsylvania farmers to reduce pollution, improve soil health, and make their farms more profitable.

CBF has joined the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, conservation districts, Audubon Pennsylvania and 500 other organizations nationwide asking members of the congressional Budget and Appropriations committees to reject calls for cuts to 2018 Farm Bill programs.

We expect Pennsylvania's own members of Congress to remember that clean water counts, and to likewise protect Farm Bill investments.

Clean water is a legacy worth leaving future generations. Legislators at all levels must remember that the health, way of life, and economic well being of every Pennsylvanian depend on it.

—Harry Campbell , CBF Pennsylvania Executive Director

Pennsylvanians: Take action today to urge your legislators to invest in protecting the state's rivers and streams. Our health, way of life, and economic well-being depend on it. 


Photo of the Week: The River Enriched Us

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This photo was taken at Church Point in St. Mary's City, Maryland. St. Mary's City was the fourth permanent English colony in America and the first capital of Maryland settled in 1634.

What the Bay means to me: I was reared here on Horseshoe Bay with my siblings. We lived next to, on, and in the St. Mary's River. The river enriched us in many ways, but most especially we learned the interconnection of all things. Living here raised our spiritual awareness and the realization that the most powerful thing in the universe is Love.

—Wick Jackson

Ensure that Wick and future generations continue to enjoy extraordinary sights and places like these along the Chesapeake. Support the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint—the plan to Save the Bay and its waters! 

Do you have a favorite Chesapeake photo you'd like to submit to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Photo of the Week contest? Send your digital images to CBF's Director of Digital Media, Emmy Nicklin, at enicklin [at sign] cbf.org, along with a brief description of where and when you took the photo, and what the Chesapeake Bay means to you. We look forward to seeing your photos!


Save the Bay: Slashes to EPA Funding Would Reverse Years of Progress

The following first appeared in the Washington Post.

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Photo by Denny Motsko.

The Trump administration's plan to cut Environmental Protection Agency staff by a fifth and eliminate key programs raises troubling questions about support for the highly successful Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Blueprint. The White House proposal would reduce annual funding for EPA's Chesapeake Bay cleanup project by 93 percent, from $73 million this fiscal year to $5 million in the next.

The project represents a unique state/federal cleanup plan begun in 2010. It is working: The Chesapeake is getting better, and each partner plays a role. The states developed and implemented their own plans to reduce pollution and restore water quality. The EPA's portion of the cleanup program coordinates the science, research, and modeling to implement the blueprint and makes grants that fund pollution reduction. Today, pollution is down. Jobs have been created, human health protected, and local economies improved. The Chesapeake Bay's "dead zone" where aquatic life cannot thrive is getting smaller; crabs, oysters, and underwater grasses are rebounding.

But the bay is far from saved. A budget cut of this magnitude would reverse that progress. Bay restoration efforts have a long history of bipartisan support. Our elected officials have consistently pursued a legacy of clean water. Let's make sure they succeed.   

—Will Baker, CBF President

Click here to learn about what you can do right now to support clean water across our region.

BONUS: CBF Statement on proposal to cut Bay restoration funding


The Clean Power Plan: How It Could Affect Chesapeake Bay Restoration

  Smokestack-air-pollution-odec-iStock_695x352Photo courtesy of iStock.

What happened?
In 2005, despite the significant body of scientific evidence showing a correlation between increased carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere and increasing global temperatures, EPA refused to develop regulations curbing the emission of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide from power plants, cars, and trucks.

Because of growing concern over climate change and sea level rise, several states, local governments, and private organizations brought a lawsuit to require EPA to create regulations designed to curb the emission of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, methane, and hydrofluorocarbons). In 2007, the Supreme Court held that given the clear scientific evidence for human-caused climate change and the potential for adverse human health impacts, EPA had the authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases. Click here to learn more about Massachusetts v. EPA, 549 U.S. 497 (2007).

Following the Supreme Court's direction, on August 3, 2015, EPA issued a new regulation under the Clean Air Act called the Clean Power Plan for Existing Power Plants ("The Plan"). 

Several types of power plants (coal, nuclear, gas, oil, hydroelectric) generate electricity for our homes and businesses. The Plan focuses on coal-burning power plants. Several lawsuits have been filed against EPA challenging the Plan. Those lawsuits are still pending. 

Now, President Trump has signaled that he wants to revoke the Plan. That could be attempted in several different ways, but all would require that the public be given notice of and the ability to comment on EPA's change in position. Citizens, states, or industry could later sue the government if they believed the agency's decision was arbitrary, capricious, or illegal.

How could elimination of the Clean Power Plan affect Bay restoration?
The Plan gives states three ways to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants within their borders. The most effective way would be to make the power plants more efficient in generating electricity; that is, make them burn less fuel to generate the same amount of electricity. Making these plants more fuel efficient or even shutting them down would mean the plants would emit less nitrogen oxides (NOx). Because NOx is a major source of nitrogen pollution to the Bay, implementation of the Power Plan would greatly improve Bay health. (See Bay TMDL, Appendix L and Eshleman, K., et al., "Declining nitrate-N yields in the Upper Potomac River Basin: What is really driving progress under Chesapeake Bay restoration?")

Once EPA decides to act, it is expected to tell the courts considering the Plan that it wants to reevaluate the rule so all litigation should be suspended. Then, it is likely that the agency will issue a new rule either reversing the earlier finding that greenhouse gases from power plants are causing climate change that is harming humans or revising the rule significantly to weaken its impact on coal-fired power plants. If the Trump Administration takes such action, it is expected that some states and private groups will sue EPA. A protracted legal fight is expected. 

CBF's legal and policy teams are monitoring EPA's actions with respect to the Clean Power Plan and will take the appropriate actions if required to preserve the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint and ensure Bay restoration moves forward. 

—Jon A. Mueller, CBF Vice President for Litigation

Click here to learn about what you can do right now to support clean water across our region.