Despite snow and numbing cold, hundreds of activists for clean water rallied in Richmond, Va., and marched on the state capitol building yesterday. They chanted ‘Clean Water Now!’ waved signs, wore fish hats and blue-colored scarves to symbolize their devotion to a clean blue Chesapeake Bay.
The event, organized by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), was designed in part to convince Virginia lawmakers not to cut $20 million for agricultural runoff pollution control programs that Gov. Tim Kaine has proposed in next year’s budget. Kaine, like governors across the nation, is under intense pressure to slash from environmental programs because the recession has meant a drop in state revenues. Such cuts would backfire and prolong the economic crisis, because they would mean more pollution in the Chesapeake Bay – destroying more jobs for fishermen, crabbers, restaurants and the region’s tourism industry.
Gov. Kaine said he included the money in his budget to prevent pollution in the Chesapeake Bay – the same amount as last year – despite deep cuts in other areas to make up a projected $2.9 billion revenue shortfall, the (Norfolk) Virginian Pilot reported.
“It was tough, because I am cutting virtually everything in state government,” Kaine said.
That $20 million will look appealing for the General Assembly to cut when it looks for its own way to balance the budget, Kaine said. “This is just too important,” he told the crowd. “Go up and tell these legislators how important that $20 million is.”