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The Specific Flaws of the Obama Administration's Bay Cleanup Plan

Obama Was I too vague about vagueness? I feel vaguely guilty.

I would like to respond to a Bay Daily reader who thought my blog last week criticizing the Obama Administration's Chesapeake Bay cleanup proposal for its lack of specifics was itself lacking in specifics.

Marshgrasses The reader, who goes by the handle SF, asked: “What was vague? What was missing? How did this fall short?... I'd love to see a follow-up post (or a link to other articles if I've overlooked them) on what is missing, and what substantive measures you want imposed--whether by feds, states, or localities.”

First off, thank you, SF and other Bay Daily readers, for paying attention to this crucial issue. It brings me hope that folks out there are reading Bay Daily carefully and are focused enough to care.

Okay, here's the dope.  The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is concerned that the language currently in the draft proposal gives EPA too much discretion. The plan focuses on the kind of voluntary commitments that have already failed us in Bay clean-up efforts. The time has come for clear, binding and mandatory pollution reduction commitments.

Here are some other things that are lacking in the Obama Administration proposal, released last week.  

The draft federal plan talks about the possibility of expanding federal regulations for reducing runoff pollution from real-estate developments and animal-intensive agriculture (if the states don't act first to propose their own pollution control rules).  But the feds do not say what size of subdivision or farm would be subject to the new permitting requirements. Nor do the feds say what the new and expanded requirements for reducing runoff pollution might be.

The federal government is proposing to wait for the states to act.  But the proposal does not say how long the federal government will wait before it steps in and imposes its own pollution control rules for farms and developments.

Nor does the federal plan say what steps EPA will take today – under existing authority – to reduce pollution into the Chesapeake Bay. For example, EPA could force a cleanup of the toxic Sparrows Point steel manufacturing factory site in Maryland. EPA could step in and force Virginia to impose nitrogen pollution limits on the Merck pharmaceutical plant on the Shenandoah River that would protect the waterway.  EPA could deny a permit for the proposed Old Dominion Electric Cooperative coal-fired power plant in Dendron, Va., because its air emissions would contribute  unacceptable levels of pollution to the already-impaired waterways of Virginia and the Bay.

The federal proposal does little to curb air pollution. This is short-sighted, because air pollution contributes roughly a third of the nitrogen pollution that causes low-oxygen "dead zones" in the Bay.

What about farms?  The Chesapeake Bay Foundation believes it makes sense to expand the definition and scope of pollution control rules and permits for animal-intensive farms, called "Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations" (or CAFOs) in a strategic way.

We support EPA’s expansion of CAFO rules and permits to focus on producers or animal sectors that discharge significant amounts of manure into waterways. In addition, EPA must seek to close a loophole caused by the fact that much of the land-applied manure occurs on farms that are not CAFOs and therefore not covered by the CAFO permit.  Whether this can be done by adding record-keeping requirements to the farms producing the manure, or upgrading the nutrient management plans that all farms that apply manure must follow, EPA needs to ensure that the safeguards to protect water quality apply to the end-user of the manure.

EPA should apply CAFO pollution-control rules to smaller farms than those currently required to obtain  CAFO permits and follow federal runoff-control rules, if those smaller farms have manure runoff problems. 

How about controlling stormwater runoff from urban areas and new developments?  CBF wants EPA to require municipalities to rebuild or retrofit areas served by stormwater permits (called MS4 permits) so that they reduce the amount of pollution washing off of streets and parking lots into streams, rivers and the Bay. Montgomery County, Maryland, is a good example of a local government that is reducing its stormwater pollution through a stronger MS4 permit.

Perhaps it's an obvious point, but we want EPA to require jurisdictions with stormwater permits (MS4 permits) to actually implement the plans they develop.  This often has not happened in the past.

The stormwater permits for municipalities should require specific, numeric reductions in the discharge of nutrient pollution (nitrogen and phosphorus), and set firm deadlines.  The permits should require that runoff be clean enough to meet water quality standards for receiving bodies of water. Moreover, the creation of these permits should require public participation. 

Is that specific enough for you, SF?

If not, posted below is a document that CBF's senior water quality scientist, Dr. Beth McGee, wrote in response to the Obama Administration's proposals released in September. It provides a good sense of what CBF would like to see the federal government do.

XXXXXXXXXX

Comments from Chesapeake Bay Foundation on Draft Section 202 Reports

October 19, 2009

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation offers the following comments on draft reports that were issued on September 10, 2009 in response to Section 202 of President Obama’s Executive Order 13508. The majority of our comments are focused on the Section 202 (a) report, The Next Generation of Tools and Actions to Restore Water Quality in the Chesapeake Bay, but we also offer suggestions for Section 202(b) report, Focusing Resources to Restore and Protect the Chesapeake Bay and its Tributary Waters, Section 202(e), Landscape Conservation and Public Access in the Chesapeake Bay Region and Section 202(g), Habitat and Research Activities to Protect and Restore Chesapeake Bay Living Resources and Water Quality.
 
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) is the only private, non-profit, environmental education and advocacy organization dedicated solely to the restoration and protection of the Chesapeake Bay. With over 200,000 members, CBF works to ensure that changes in policy, regulation, and legislation are protective of the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed.   

We would like to commend the Obama Administration for elevating the status of the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay watershed within the federal government.  For years, we have been urging the federal government to take its rightful place as the leader of Bay restoration efforts.  Finally, it appears this may be happening.  We also acknowledge and appreciate the efforts of the many committed federal staff that worked diligently to produce these draft reports in a relatively short timeframe. 
In some instances, the reports outline an ambitious agenda, but in other places, we find them recommending little that goes beyond the status quo.  For example, on the positive side, we strongly support EPA’s efforts to develop a strong, enforceable Bay-wide Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) that will require pollution reductions from all sources.  A key component of the TMDL are the “Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Accountability Programs” that would require the watershed jurisdictions to commit to regulations, permits, or enforceable agreements in order to achieve the necessary pollution reductions.  For more than a year, we have advocated that this level of accountability is necessary to demonstrate “reasonable assurance” of achieving the load allocations under the Bay-wide TMDL.  Perhaps even more critical to restoration success, is EPA’s willingness to enact consequences if the States fail to make progress on pollution reductions.  Below we provide additional suggestions for these consequences and recommend that EPA explicitly identify the trigger(s) for invoking them. Without greater specificity, we believe they will be viewed by many simply as “empty threats.”
We also support EPA’s efforts to improve stormwater regulations and expand coverage to areas not currently covered by MS4 permits.  We have provided suggestions for additional improvement to these recommendations.  We believe it makes sense to expand the definition and scope of the confined animal feeding operation (CAFO) program in a strategic way, to focus on producers or sectors that are significant contributors to water quality problems.  In addition, we note there is much to be gained by increased enforcement of existing laws and regulations.  Furthermore, EPA should consider strategic use of its Section 504 Emergency Powers authority as an enforcement tool to reduce pollution.

We were encouraged by recommendations in the Section 202 (g) report that would expand large scale oyster restoration in the Chesapeake region and establish the federal government as a leader in promoting and implementing ecosystem based management of Chesapeake Bay fisheries.

If implemented, these highlighted actions would enhance and accelerate Bay restoration efforts. In other areas, however, we found the reports we reviewed to be deficient.

One overarching concern about the Section 202 (a) report (most notable in the section on New Rulemakings and Actions) is that the language reads “EPA should” or “EPA would.”  CBF recognizes this is only a draft report, but we do expect that the draft strategy being released in early November will have definite timetables for actions by EPA and language to reflect that EPA will, in fact, undertake the recommendations in the strategy.  We are concerned that the language currently in the draft report gives EPA too much discretion and alludes to voluntary commitments that have failed us already in Bay clean-up efforts. 

On a related note, we believe EPA can and should implement actions now, prior to the release of the final Bay-wide strategy.  See E.O. Section 203.  Yet no actions are specified for immediate implementation.  We urge EPA to include such actions in the strategy document released in November.   For example, EPA could immediately use its existing residual designation authority to address stormwater pollution in areas that are contributing high nutrient and sediment loads and/or are vulnerable to future development pressures. 

We were also disappointed with EPA’s proposed actions to reduce atmospheric deposition of nitrogen to the Bay.  Atmospheric deposition accounts for at least 28% of the nitrogen entering the Bay each year, yet the proposed actions do little to move efforts beyond the status quo. We have provided suggestions for additional EPA actions in this area.

The Section 202 (b) report emphasizes the need for “aggressive, voluntary partnership[s],” to implement agricultural conservation practices.  Unfortunately the report does not sufficiently consider or address current obstacles to implementation, namely, funding and technical assistance.

The Executive Order (EO) and these draft reports have offered a new level of engagement from the federal government and have heightened the public’s expectations. As the process moves forward and the Federal Leadership Committee drafts a Baywide strategy, we strongly encourage the federal government to deliver and hold itself accountable for achieving the strategy’s goals. Otherwise, the EO will become another in a long string of unfulfilled commitments to Bay restoration. 

Detailed Comments:

Section 202(a) Report:

CBF has the greatest interest in this report because the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay will not be possible without substantially reducing the nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment pollution that degrade water quality.
Accountability
As noted above, we applaud and support EPA’s efforts to develop and implement “Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Accountability Programs (CWAP).” EPA is proposing a slightly different level of accountability for DE, WV, and NY as long as these states still achieve the necessary pollution reductions.  We do not object to this distinction.  We recommend, however, that EPA apply the consequences for failing to achieve, or make progress toward, pollution reductions, equally to all Bay watershed jurisdictions. 
The critical component that makes the CWAP different than other earlier restoration efforts to date are the consequences EPA will impose for failing to submit adequate plans or achieve the two-year milestones. For the last year, we have urged the EPA to exert their authority in this manner and we are pleased it is indicating its intent to do so.  We have two additions to the list that EPA has identified in the report:  1) that EPA exercises its discretionary authority under CWA Section 504, the emergency powers provision, and place additional regulations on pollution, and 2) that EPA consider requiring a no less than 2:1 offset requirement for new or expanding NPDES sources.  Furthermore, EPA needs to explicitly identify the triggers for invoking these consequences and consider their application as a mandatory, as opposed to discretionary, action of the Agency.
New or Expanding Sources of Nutrient and/or Sediment Pollution
We will not achieve water quality standards in the Bay watershed as long as new sources of pollution are allowed without offsets.  EPA must adopt strict actions and policies to require offsets for all new or expanding pollutant sources, including, but not limited to, “traditional” point sources (e.g., sewage plants, industrial facilities), MS4s, construction general permits, and new development.  
New Rulemakings and Actions
The draft report makes three recommendations related to stormwater all of which we support.  We offer the following comments to improve these recommendations.
1. Additional requirements for stormwater from new development and redevelopment. The suggested standard is stronger than what is currently in place in some jurisdictions (MD, e.g.) with respect to redevelopment projects, although not so for new development.
We agree that generally higher stormwater standards for redevelopment are crucial for reducing existing urban loads, although flexibility should be accorded such projects given the higher degree of difficulty and sometimes, cost, to implement management practices in highly urban locations.  Some local jurisdictions nearby (e.g., Philadelphia) employ a basic one inch rain event standard and encourage low impact development/environmental site design to meet it.    
We recommend that EPA set a minimum floor or minimum permit requirements for the construction general permits within the watershed to help improve the management of run-off from active construction sites.  The existing state Construction General Permits rely on outdated manuals and contain few actual minimum numeric standards, whether for stabilization time, site phasing, or effluent turbidity limits.  EPA has the authority to set effluent limit guidelines for the watershed that would require incorporation of new parameters into state general permits for construction.
2. Requiring retrofits in areas served by MS4s to reduce loads from existing stormwater discharges. We support this concept and successfully advocated for it in the Montgomery County MS4 permit. 
3. Expanding the universe of areas regulated under the MS4 program.  This is a very good idea and takes a more proactive approach to stormwater that could prove less costly to areas in the long run since they will have to rely less on retrofits.  This action could be implemented immediately.
4. Developing a model MS4 permit for the watershed. A model permit includes specific, quantifiable limits and milestones, including TMDL waste load allocations would help in accelerating pollution reductions. We do not, however, support the use of the Montgomery County MS4 as the floor.  While the Montgomery County MS4 permit is much stronger than many other permits, there are areas that need improvement: requiring the MS4 jurisdiction to actually implement the implementation plans it develops; setting implementation deadlines and an outside timeframe for achieving wasteload allocations; requiring a direct reference that the MS4 permit system comply with Water Quality Standards and meet anti-degradation requirements; incorporating improved public participation (e.g., through review of local implementation plans prior to their adoption); and requiring specific reductions on the discharges of nutrients. 
Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs)
We support EPA’s strategic expansion of the CAFO rule and permits, one that focuses on producers or animal sectors that have serious manure-related discharge problems. In addition, EPA must seek to close the loophole caused by the fact that much of the land-applied manure occurs on farms that are not CAFOs and therefore not covered by the NPDES permit.  Whether this can be done by adding record requirements to the CAFO producing the manure or upgrading the nutrient management plans that all farms that apply manure have to follow, EPA needs to ensure that the safeguards to protect water quality apply to the end-user of the manure.  
Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTWs)
We understand EPA’s focus on the “significant facilities,” however, as we reduce pollution from these large sources, the “non-significant” facilities will become increasingly more important. They cannot be ignored. At a minimum, EPA must include “non-significant” sources in any rule-making regarding offsets to assure that we do not lose ground achieving pollution reductions from the point source sector. 
We support the recommendation that federal facilities should lead by example and commit to meeting 3 mg/L and 0.1 mg/L effluent limits for total nitrogen and total phosphorus, respectively. 
Atmospheric Deposition of Nitrogen
EPA’s proposed actions to reduce atmospheric deposition of nitrogen to the Bay are weak and disappointing.  Atmospheric deposition accounts for at least 28% of the nitrogen entering the Bay each year and, according to the report (p.34), roughly 109 million pounds of nitrogen from the air was delivered to the Bay in 2002.  Yet, implementation of proposed federal air rules from 2010 to 2020 will only result in a reduction of roughly 7 million pounds – a reduction of less than 10% from 2002 estimated loads. (The report did not give expected load reduction benefits for the period up to 2010).  As we seek to maximize pollution reductions from all sources, EPA must also look aggressively at air. 

We support the recommendation that load reductions from air be an explicit component of the Bay TMDL.  The future reductions, however, should not be based on the status quo.  EPA and the states have defined an “E3” scenario (everything, everywhere by everyone) for the various pollution sectors (e.g., agriculture urban/suburban stormwater, point sources) to set the outer boundary for possible load reductions for the Bay TMDL (and before that, the Tributary Strategies).  E3 represents, as appropriate, the limit of technology (e.g., controls on point sources), state of the art practices, and almost universal implementation.  The one pollution sector that EPA has not developed an E3 scenario for is air.  Instead, EPA has relied on reductions expected through existing regulations or legislation or ones that are already in the pipeline.  The recommendations in the draft section 202(a) appear to reaffirm this status quo.
  
What more could EPA do?

1. Fast-track a more aggressive Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR).  CAIR, when first announced, was widely criticized by several states and environmental groups for not going far enough or fast enough to reduce NOx and SOx from coal-fired power plants.  Yet the draft report indicates EPA expects CAIR (which was remanded back to EPA by a federal district court) to result in “...NOx emission reductions close to those originally projected.” (p. 35).  If this is indeed the case, it is a missed opportunity to garner additional, much needed, nitrogen reductions to the Bay watershed by reducing emissions from electricity generators in the Bay airshed.  EPA should instead issue a replacement rule that strengthens CAIR by adopting the recommendations of the Ozone Transport Commission http://www.otcair.org/document.asp?fview=correspondence#) or more stringent requirements.
2. Adopt NOx standards of the California Air Resources Board (e.g., Clean Cars) for motor vehicles nationwide.
3. Establish a secondary air quality standard for NOx based on eutrophication in the Chesapeake Bay.  If this is done, then most, if not all of the Bay watershed will likely be designated as “nonattainment” for this standard (i.e., designated an air quality control region) and this will then trigger the need for States to revise their State Implementation Plans to achieve this new standard.
4. Reduce ammonia. Ammonia accounts for at least 10% of the nitrogen loading to the Bay.  Ammonia is also a large contributor to the formation of particulate matter (PM).  There are many regions in the Bay that are currently out of attainment for this standard (including Lancaster and York counties in PA, Harford and Carroll counties in MD).  EPA should lead efforts to develop control measures for reducing ammonia from large agricultural sources and require the states to include these measures in their State Implementation Plans for PM and as part of their Cleanwater Accoutability Programs.

EPA Actions to Reduce Toxic Pollution in the Bay
We appreciate the renewed emphasis on reducing toxic pollution in the Bay, yet, the recommendations do little to go beyond what currently is EPA’s responsibility and our expectation of what they should do on a regular basis, but often fail to.  For example, CBF currently has a notice of intent to sue against EPA and other entities because they failed to exercise their existing authorities under Superfund and RCRA as well as an existing consent decree to reduce and minimize the impacts of hazardous substances released from the Sparrows Point Facility in Baltimore Harbor. If EPA wants to pay more than lip service to this section, it needs to identify specific actions it will undertake, including enforcing existing laws at the Sparrows Point facility and not permitting new significant sources of mercury e.g., new coal-fired power plants. 
Compliance and Enforcement
Recent reports have highlighted the need for stepped up EPA enforcement of environmental laws and regulations ,  .  In our pending lawsuit, we have also urged EPA to step up enforcement.  So, we are pleased that EPA is focusing on this issue.  It is unclear, however, how the proposed strategy will advance or accelerate nutrient and sediment reduction efforts. There is a need for greater specificity in actions and commitments. For example, the enforcement strategy should commit to: 1) identification of a few bad actors in each of the major source categories (CAFOs, municipal & industrial wastewater facilities, stormwater sources, and air deposition sources) and 2) quick enforcement actions in targeted watersheds.  A few high profile enforcement actions would set an example and do much to bring others into compliance. 

Given limited resources, it makes sense that EPA is planning to target watersheds for enhanced enforcement and then drill down to the impaired segments of that watershed. We are concerned, however, that the criteria they are proposing to develop and use to identify the regulated entities having the greatest impact are much too cumbersome. EPA needs a quicker and more streamlined program. In addition, EPA should consider strategic use of its Section 504 Emergency Powers authority to reduce pollution from urban stormwater and other sources.  EPA’s own guidance on the use of Section 504 states  : “Cases in which stormwater discharges are contributing to the contamination or depletion of fish or shellfish populations, or causing or contributing to the failure of bodies of water to meet water quality standards, are situations appropriate for use of Section 504” (p.23).  Furthermore, the guidance explicitly references nonpoint source runoff in the Chesapeake Bay, stating “… agricultural runoff in several forms can cause or contribute to bacterial contamination, nitrate and pesticide contamination, and eutrophication of essential bodies of water such as the Chesapeake Bay” (p. 23).
 
As noted on page A-4, collaboration with the Bay states is critical. We recommend that EPA work with USDA and state governments to develop and implement a strategy for achieving widespread compliance of agricultural producers with existing legal requirements.  Key components of the strategy include:

1. An EPA-led review of each state’s policies regarding phosphorus based nutrient management plans and the states’ use of phosphorus indices to determine whether they sufficiently protect water quality.
2. Verifiable and enforceable nutrient application rates for both nitrogen and phosphorus which are protective of water quality, including soil testing before application of nutrients.
3. Ensuring that all farms have a current conservation plan as well as a nutrient management plan (or manure management plan, nutrient balance sheet, etc.) by a date certain, consistent with applicable state and federal regulations.
4. Applying Section 122.23(b) of the CAFO rule strategically and in a targeted fashion to achieve compliance on livestock farms that are below the existing CAFO thresholds, but that have serious manure-related discharge problems.

Section 202(b) Report

The report emphasizes the need for “aggressive, voluntary partnership[s],” but, unfortunately, does not contain much detail in terms of overcoming the current obstacles to implementing such. Below are several overarching problems with the current system that this report does not address or is inadequate in addressing:

1. A key element in our inability to achieve the necessary nonpoint source agricultural reductions is the reality that too many farmers/landowners have not engaged in even basic conservation planning or implementation (e.g., in PA perhaps as much as 50%).  These individuals don’t interact with conservation agencies and many of them contribute to our most severe water quality issues. To meet our goals we must develop an effective outreach/education strategy for this group and allocate the necessary staff and resources to implement it.  The key to the agricultural reduction goals is not “silver bullet” new technologies, but the implementation of basic conservation practices on every farm.
2. There is a troublesome shortage of technical assistance (TA).  Given shrinking staff levels at the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), one of the keys to successfully meeting the Bay reduction goals is to provide additional TA capacity through a robust technical service provider program.  This concept has not been implemented at the magnitude necessary given the programmatic funding available and the shortage of staff resources.  USDA must identify the hurdles and solutions to broadly expand this capacity.
3. Funding levels remain inadequate for the work to be done.  While current funding levels challenge the capacity of our outreach and technical assistance resources, in the big picture, they fall short of what is necessary to address the necessary load reductions.  Prioritizing additional resources, in addition to resolving the above issues, is necessary for success.



There are a number of additional concepts we recommend:

1. Program delivery and best management practice (BMP) implementation should be integrated with EPA’s plans for compliance and enforcement; those realities may affect interest in and need for USDA programs.  They should also be linked to individual states’ implementation plans and milestones.
2. The outreach plan mentioned above should integrate the realities of compliance and enforcement.
3. A tracking system, to be effective, must include the ability to capture BMPs implemented without federal or state funding.  For example, while cover crops and no-till are increasing dramatically in PA, since these practices are not cost shared, there is minimal data to document implementation and the associated pollution reductions.
4. USDA should assess how program funding and requirements can be used to drive behavior.  For example, we support setting requirements for program eligibility, requiring Conservation Reserve Enhancement (CREP) buffers, livestock exclusion, or barnyard management, as a threshold for program engagement.
5. USDA program funding must be used holistically to address all Clean Water Act requirements on a particular farm, instead of the current piecemeal approach that leaves some water quality problems unaddressed. 
6. The report should specifically address how USDA will integrate its programs with other agencies such as Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Cooperative Extension.
7. Implementation of forested buffers through the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) is critical to achieving the bay-wide pollution reduction goals. This FSA program must be given a priority for implementation. 

Section 202(e) Report

The report makes five major recommendations to expand landscape conservation and public access across the watershed. Together, these five actions would, indeed, substantially strengthen federal dedication to the conservation of valuable open space lands across the Bay watershed and CBF’s supports these findings and recommendations.  We do, however, suggest these recommendations be prioritized. Specifically, we suggest the highest priority be given to coordinating and targeting existing funding.  The President’s 2010 budget requested more than a hundred million dollar increase in the Land and Water Conservation Fund over 2009 levels, and there are already dozens of federal (and state) programs with some money for similar efforts.  At the same time, there are numerous targeting and prioritization mechanisms/programs at the federal and state level whose coordination would benefit the Bay region significantly.

Second, we support coordinating the use of federal regulatory tools.  For example, Clean Water Act wetlands permits require mitigation, as does the operation of Maryland’s own Forest Management Act.  At the same time, the implementation of new local TMDLs may well be advanced by significant forest and open land conservation as part of reasonable assurance.   Better linkage and coordination of these actions has the possibility to produce significantly more conservation on the ground.

A third priority should be new/expanded federal management units (e.g., parks, wildlife refuges, national trails, estuarine research reserves, national forests, etc.).  This initiative would have the capacity to conserve significant resource areas, in the thousands or even tens of thousands of additional acres of land, and to increase public access to the Bay. 

Fourth, we support extending or creating incentives for private conservation and market-based conservation that both provide very helpful tools, and can serve as multipliers for incipient private intention.

Section 202 (g) Report

CBF has been a long-time proponent of large scale native oyster restoration. We are pleased that the report includes this recommendation and also calls for the development
of a bay-wide oyster restoration strategy that targets ecological restoration. 

The most important fisheries recommendation in the report is the call for ecosystem-based management (EBM).  This is an area where the federal agencies should step up and provide scientific support and use their influence through existing funding and authorities.  The states individually and collectively at ASMFC have not shown much initiative or success to date in developing and implementing EBM, the federal government has the capacity and mandate to be a leader in this area. 
 
The report emphasizes the need to enhance federal support for a collaborative approach to living resource protection and restoration with federal technical expertise, funding streams and existing authorities. The first fisheries recommendation looks to establish a new Baywide regulatory authority for managing fisheries. We support the concept of a Bay-wide authority, but emphasize that the federal agencies should bring their respective capabilities to the table as partners with the states. The states are showing a recent ability to work together on Bay fisheries, but the next election could degrade this effective collaboration.
 
Most of the other major Bay fisheries are coastal in range and managed under the Atantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) authority.  However, as has recently been demonstrated by inaction on menhaden, the ASMFC process can be improved.  Thus, we support the recommendation to extend the same degree of scientific scrutiny to ASMFC decision-making as is done for federal water fisheries under the Magnuson Act.  In addition, using the federal funding support for ASMFC as leverage to force a more precautionary approach to interstate fisheries decisions, as the report suggests, would also be most welcome.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide these preliminary comments. If you have questions or would like additional information, please contact Roy Hoagland (rhoagland@cbf.org) or Beth McGee (bmcgee@cbf.org), at 410–268-8816.

(Photos at top courtesy of the White House and the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program)


 

Comments

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Thanks so much, Tom. As usual, I do agree with CBF's position, and appreciate the analysis that goes into your work. Thanks for sharing a bit more of the detail of that analysis.

SF

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