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October 2009

September 2009

CBF Lawsuit Against EPA On Hold

Kalbird1

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) and our partners, jointly with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), today agreed to “stay,” or put on hold, CBF’s lawsuit against EPA.

Today’s action is good news, because it is an indication that CBF is succeeding in pushing the Obama Administration toward an accelerated Bay cleanup and more accountability for reducing water pollution. But the process of forming a new federal strategy for restoring the Bay is only just beginning. So CBF will continue to be vigilant and press for the strongest possible pollution controls in our continuing discussions with EPA.

As you may recall, CBF sued EPA in January because the federal agency had broken three interstate agreements to clean up the Bay over the last quarter century.

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Sunset For The Twilight Bird? Decline in Chimney Swifts

Swifts

The destruction of forests and wildlife habitat has a wide range of impacts, from hurting water quality to disrupting bird populations. To hear my public radio report on the decline of migrating chimney swifts through the Chesapeake region, click here to go to the WYPR website and listen anytime.  Or listen in to my "Environment in Focus" program at 9:35 a.m. every other Wednesday morning (next on Oct. 14) on 88.1 FM if you live in the Baltimore area, central Maryland or the Washington suburbs; or 106.9 FM on the Eastern Shore. 

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Save the Bay? Or Save the Economy? False Choice! Please Speak Out

Kalbird1

What would you rather have: A healthy body? Or a healthy bank account?

It’s a false choice, obviously. People in poor health often end up drained by huge medical bills and unable to earn a paycheck.

But that’s the type of false choice being posed by a television station in a new online poll.  NBC 12 in Richmond is asking folks to vote: Would you rather save the Bay?  Or save the economy?

The context of the question is an upcoming Oct. 5 vote of the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board on proposed new state regulations for controlling polluted stormwater runoff.

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The Link Between Clean Energy and a Clean Chesapeake Bay

There is a clear connection between clean energy and a clean Chesapeake Bay.  Watch the above NBC interview with author and climate activist Mike Tidwell.

Coal-fired power plants not only belch out carbon dioxide that contributes to global warming and sea-level rise around the Chesapeake Bay. This dirty source of electricity also releases nitrogen oxides that help create low-oxygen dead-zones in the Bay. And these plants emit mercury, a pollutant that can damage human intelligence.

All of these are good reasons to join the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, climate activists and many others in fighting the proposed construction of a new 1,500 megawatt coal-fired power plant in our back yard, in Surry County, Virginia. 

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New Drama About Bay Watermen To Premier Tomorrow

What are you doing tomorrow night?  If you happen to live in the Annapolis area and want to see a drama with original music about the Chesapeake Bay, consider going to a new one-act play, called “Fishing Gone.”  Doors open at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 29, at the Annapolis Maritime Museum, 723 Second Street in Annapolis. The play stars Lisa Wheatley, a Tangier Island resident who relates the story of her historic fishing community, with music by David Crockett, a Tangier songwriter who sings “Tangier Crabbing Man.”

For more information and directions, click here.


 


Fish Kills, Exploding Wells... All Is Well With Drilling

Kalbird4

If anyone is still wondering whether a new wave of gas drilling in Pennsylvania using a technique called “fracking” is hurting water quality …well, now we have proof.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recenty issued a violation notice to the Cabot Oil and Gas company for spilling 8,000 gallons of water laced with chemicals from a drill site in Dimock Township, in the northeastern section of the state. The spill polluted a wetlands and caused a fish kill, according to the state agency.

The chemical compound was called LGC-35, which is mixed with water and serves as a lubricant in the well “fracking” process, according to the DEP.  “Fracking” is an increasingly popular technique in which drilling companies inject water mixed with chemicals at high pressure underground, fracturing the rock and allowing natural gas to escape.

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Fat Lady Sings ... and Fish Join in Chorus

Wetlands

The fat lady is finally singing for an ill-conceived dam and reservoir project in southeastern Virginia. The fish are singing, too, over the death of the King William Reservoir. The city of Newport News, Va., won’t be damming Cohoke Mill Creek, or destroying more than 430 acres of wetlands, or stealing up to 75 million gallons of water daily from the Mattaponi River.

The Newport News City Council on Tuesday directed the city manager to terminate the estimated $289 million reservoir project, which has been in planning and litigation for more than two decades, the Daily Press reports. The decision came after a U.S. District Court in March ruled that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had issued a permit for the 13 billion gallon reservoir “arbitrarily and capriciously,” and then the Corps suspended the permit.

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States to Feds: Please Hit Us With Hammers...For The Bay's Sake

Kalbird1

Representatives of Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia today asked the federal government to punish them if they don’t keep their promises and clean up the Chesapeake Bay.

The unusual request by state governments for more federal regulation came during a hearing of a U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee meeting on a bill being drafted by  Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland that would strengthen the federal Clean Water Act to provide consequences if states fail to reduce pollution.

A similar bill, being proposed in the Senate by U.S.  Senator  Ben Cardin, would also impose new requirements to curb polluted storm water runoff, provide $1.7 billion in federal funding to help in this effort, and create a legally binding deadline of 2020 for the establishment of necessary cleanup programs.

“It’s not every day that someone comes and says, ‘show me some teeth. Pick up a hammer and do something to me if I don’t do something.’ But we’re at this point,” said Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources L. Preston Bryant, Jr.  “State budget writers don’t fear the EPA.  There has to be a level of consequences that hasn’t been enacted in the past.”

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CBF Fights Destructive Gas Drilling in Pennsylvania

Kalbird1

Okay, think fast: What’s the first thing you associate with state forests?  A) Hiking in the woods; B) Fishing in trout streams;  or C) clear-cutting trees to drill for natural gas.

If you picked (C), you would be happy to live in Pennsylvania.

 

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has created a fast-track permit review process to allow companies to drill for gas in state forests and elsewhere in the Marcellus Shale region, which stretches from northeastern Pennsylvania to the southwestern section of the state.

 

A major problem with this drilling is that it causes erosion that pollutes nearby streams.  The DEP is not conducting environmental studies to make sure that waterways are protected.  For this reason, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation is challenging drilling permits in the Tioga State Forest and elsewhere in Pennsylvania.

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