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December 2010

The Top 10 Stories of 2010

What would New Year's Eve be without a top 10 list? Here's a look back at Bay Daily's most popular posts from the past year.

And here's our wish to you for a very happy and healthy New Year!

10.  Maryland Moves to Relax Successful Blue Crab Regulations 

9.  A Mansion That Overlooks The Law 

8.  Metals In Boat Paints May Harm Life in Bay 

7.  A Jellyfish Population Explosion? Globally, Yes... But Not Locally 

6.  Lynnhaven River Points the Way to a Clean Bay 

5.  Historic Shift in Wind Patterns Over Bay Blows Away Water Quality 

4.  Keep Jaws in the Potomac 

3.  The Irony of Oyster Economics: Restrictions Help Watermen, Freedom Hurts 

2.  Increased Risk of Dangerous Infections From The Bay 

Top story of 2010: The Last House Falls on a Sinking Chesapeake Bay Island 


Trust but Verify

Nansemond No doubt Bay Daily readers have heard or read about EPA’s announcement this week of a Chesapeake  Bay pollution budget – the long-awaited total maximum daily load (TMDL) plan that finally puts the Bay on a strict pollution diet so it can recover its health. News about it has been in newspapers across the Bay watershed.

There have been other TMDL plans for other waterways, and certainly there have been previous Chesapeake Bay cleanup plans over the years. What makes this one different, even historic, is its scope and commitment to success.

Continue reading "Trust but Verify" »

Chesapeake Clean Water Act Blocked in U.S. Senate

Harryreid Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has abandoned plans to bring to the floor an omnibus bill designed to protect wilderness areas and restore waterways across the U.S., including legislation to help clean up the Chesapeake Bay.

Despite intensive, up-to-the-last-minute advocacy by Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and many others, the America’s Great Outdoors Act of 2010, which included the Chesapeake Clean Water Act, fell a few votes short of the 60 needed to overcome a threat of filibuster from the minority.

“Unfortunately, certain senators have made it clear that they prefer delay over bipartisan action,” Reid spokeswoman Regan Lachapelle said this morning.

Continue reading "Chesapeake Clean Water Act Blocked in U.S. Senate" »

Should Maryland Impose a Moratorium on Drilling?

Drilling As companies line up the rights to drill for natural gas in more than 100,000 acres of Western Maryland, a state lawmaker is proposing a moratorium on drilling in the state. The wells would be drilled using a technology called hydraulic fracturing in a formation of black rock called the Marcellus shale that extends from New York through Pennsylvania and Western Maryland to West Virginia and other states.

Maryland State Del. Heather R. Mizeur, who represents Montgomery County in the state General Assembly, argues in an opinion article in the Baltimore Sun that Maryland needs to avoid the mistakes and spills suffered by Pennsylvania to the north. Her colleagues Sen. George Edwards and Del. Wendell Beitzel of Western Maryland made the opposite arguments later in The Sun.

Continue reading "Should Maryland Impose a Moratorium on Drilling?" »

Pennsylvania Fines Gas Drillers $4.1 Million for Contaminating Drinking Water


Pennsylvania officials yesterday announced a settlement that will force a Texas-based natural gas drilling company to pay $4.1 million to residents of Dimock, PA (including Norma Fiorentino, at left) who had their drinking water contaminated by methane.

Norma, a retired nurse and grandmother of 19 who lives in a small house in the Marcellus shale region of north central Pennsylvania, said she was "just scraping by" on $557 montly social security checks in 2008 when her husband, Joseph, a plumber, died of a heart attack. 

Near her home, Cabot Oil & Gas and its drilling contractors started injecting millions of gallons of water laced with chemicals into the rock as part of a process called hydraulic fracturing that releases natural gas so it can be piped to the surface. 

Norma's drinking water well exploded on New Year's Day in 2009, and then her tap water ran black and foul smelling, she said. 

Continue reading "Pennsylvania Fines Gas Drillers $4.1 Million for Contaminating Drinking Water" »

Turtles Run From Development That Would Destroy Forested Wetlands

TurtlerunTake a look at this aerial photo of the lush green forest beside Deep Cove Creek in southern Anne Arundel County, Maryland. Does this look like the right place to build a subdivision, with driveways and roofs replacing the trees beside this Chesapeake Bay tributary?

No, it's the worst possible place for development.  And yet, the Snyder Development Corp., is proposing to build 18 homes right here, just to the left of the bend at the top of this picture.

Continue reading "Turtles Run From Development That Would Destroy Forested Wetlands" »

A Coal Miner's Plea To Bury Coal. Study Reveals 10,000 Deaths a Year.

Richard White Richard White, a laid-off miner, drives to a cemetery on a ridge above his home in Twilight, West Virginia. He looks down on the coal-washing plant where he worked for 33 years.  He points to the graves of his father and father-in-law, also miners.

All around, hillsides have been sheared.  A mountain has been cleared of trees and dynamited.  The setting sun illuminates what looks like a golden cloud of smoke.

 “Now, you see all the dust in the air up here?” he asks.

White has a reason to be worried about coal dust. He has black lung disease, as did his father and father-in-law.

“My father-in-law, and my father, the doctors brought them out of the mines because of their medical condition,” White said.  “They would actually cough up pieces of their lungs, with big handfuls of dust, because their lungs were deteriorating. It wasn’t pretty.”

Continue reading "A Coal Miner's Plea To Bury Coal. Study Reveals 10,000 Deaths a Year. " »

The Clipping Point: Following Jersey's Lead and Regulating Lawn Fertilizer Pollution

Mower Lawn pollution has been trimmed in the Garden State. Why not in the Chesapeake Bay states?

Lawmakers in New Jersey yesterday passed what advocates describe as the nation’s toughest restrictions on lawn fertilizer.

Now, Jersey doesn’t have the cleanest and greenest of reputations. But in this case, maybe we should look north up the turnpike for inspiration.  Perhaps our Chesapeake region states should follow New Jersey’s leadership and also pass laws limiting the use of lawn fertilizer.

Lawns are so much a part of the everyday landscape that many people don't even think about them.  But, in fact, lawn and golf-course fertilizers are the source of roughly 10 percent of the nitrogen pollution flowing into the Bay, where it creates algal blooms and low-oxygen "dead zones."

Lawns have sprawled out to cover as much as 3.8 million acres in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, making turf the largest single "crop" in our region, surpassing even corn and hay, according to a report called "The Clipping Point" released in April by Tom Schueler, coordinator of the Chesapeake Stormwater Network.

Continue reading "The Clipping Point: Following Jersey's Lead and Regulating Lawn Fertilizer Pollution" »

Regulation and Cooperation Key to Blue Crab Rebound

Bluecrabs Check out this article in Science magazine about the rebound of blue crabs in the Chesapeake Bay.  It highlights the difficulty of managing a Bay ecosystem whose fisheries are governed by two different states, Maryland and Virginia.  The article stresses the importance of the states working together three years ago to impose restrictions on catching female crabs.  As the Bay faces other challenges, these lessons are important: regulation works, and joint efforts between states are critical.