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May 2011

Name the Critter Contest

Shiny"I may be small, but boy am I shiny."  The first reader to identify this glistening creature will win a free Chesapeake Bay Foundation T-shirt.  Enter your guesses as comments in the section below.  Ready, set, go!

UPDATE: It is an eel larva, called a leptocephalus.  A few readers guessed "eel," but I am giving the prize to Liz, who was the most specific in writing that it was this phase of the eel's lifecycle. 

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Clean Water Alliance Fights In Court to Block Ag Lobby's Efforts to Undermine Bay Pollution Limits

Sunrise An alliance of environmental groups today announced that it has filed a motion in federal court to oppose efforts by national agricultural lobbying organizations to block new federal and state programs to reduce pollution and restore the Chesapeake Bay. 

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, National Wildlife Federation, Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future, Defenders of Wildlife and several other organizations want the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Bay area states to move ahead with implementing new pollution limits in what is called the Chesapeake Bay pollution "diet," or Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL).  These limits on nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment pollution -- required by the federal Clean Water Act and court cases -- are designed to restore water quality in the Bay and its tributaries by 2025.

However, lobbyists representing the American Farm Bureau Federation, the Fertilizer Institute, the National Pork Producers Council, the National Chicken Council and other agricultural industry groups filed a lawsuit earlier this year to try to eliminate these pollution limits.

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Study Reveals Health Risks From Steel Mill Contaminants

Sparrowspoint A new study concludes that toxic contaminants from the Sparrows Point steel manufacturing plant in Baltimore County have polluted the Patapsco River to such an extent that people swimming in sections of the waterway over a lifetime would face two to five times the normal risk of cancer or other health problems, The Baltimore Sun is reporting.

The study, commissioned by the Maryland Port Administration, underscored the need for a comprehensive scientific assessment of the risks to human health and the environment from pollution that has been leaking out of the steel mill site for decades.  In July 2010, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation sued plant owner Severstal and the former owners of the plant, demanding a thorough study of the risks and a halt to the flow of pollutants into the Chesapeake Bay tributary.

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How Coal-Fired Power Plants Drain Health and Wealth

BillowingsmokeISTOCK Apparently cheap electricity from coal-fired power plants is at least twice as expensive as it seems when the costs of illness and death from air pollution are factored in, according to a new Chesapeake Bay Foundation report. These billions of dollars in health-related costs from coal pollution, if accounted for, would make clean energy, from wind and solar power, more economically competitive.

The report, “A Coal Plant’s Drain on Health and Wealth,” examines a proposal by the Old Dominion Electric Cooperative (ODEC)  to construct the largest coal-fired power plant ever built in Virginia: the 1,500 megawatt Cypress Creek Power Station in Dendron, about 40 miles west from the populous Hampton Roads metropolitan area in southeast Virginia.

Microscopic soot-like particles from the plant’s smokestacks would cause a projected 26 premature deaths a year, as well as 23 asthma emergency room visits, 40 heart attacks, 442 asthma attacks, 3,340 lost work days, and 19,903 days a year in which people will have to reduce their activities because they are sick, according to energy industry analyst David Schoengold, who used pollution figures supplied by the power company.

The total cost to society of these illnesses and deaths would be about $208 million a year –- or more than $6 billion over 30 years, according to the CBF report.

Dr.StephenShield “This air pollution would have a substantial negative impact on many citizens in this area with asthma,” said Dr. Stephen W. Shield (pictured at right), an asthma and allergy specialist who practices in Newport News and is quoted in the CBF report.   “Virginia already ranks number six in the nation for mortality from air pollution, and another coal fired power plant -– particularly in such a populous area -- would make us shoot up that list even further.”

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Is Burning Trash Green? Gov. O'Malley Argues Yes, Others Say No

Burningtrash When is “clean energy” not so clean? 

Several environmental organizations this week urged Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley to veto Senate Bill 690, which would benefit trash incinerators at the expense of wind, solar, and other clean energy sources.

However, O'Malley on Tuesday announced that he will sign the bill, in part to reduce the amount of sold waste going into landfills.  “It is only through a diverse, renewable fuel mix that we will be able to reach our aggressive goals, protect our precious environment and create the economic engine to move Maryland forward,” O’Malley said.

The legislation, passed this spring, would amend a law approved a few years ago which requires electricity generators to obtain 22 percent of the electricity they sell in Maryland from renewable energy sources by the year 2022.

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PA Fines Drilling Company $1 Million for Contaminating Drinking Wells

DrillingtowerNeilEverOsborneILCP Pennsylvania today handed down a record fine to drillers for contaminating drinking water.

The state's  environmental agency fined natural gas company Chesapeake Energy $1 million for contaminating private drinking water supplies in Bradford County, in the northeastern part of the state, and for allowing a fire at a drilling site in Washington County, in southwest Pennsylvania.

In Bradford county, improper well casings allowed methane to migrate into the drinking wells of 16 homes, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

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Play the Chesapeake History Game

Boat Question: What storm administered the coupe de grace (final death blow) to the Chesapeake’s river steamboat service, which for over a century connected small communities along all of the Bay’s tidal tributaries to the urban centers of Baltimore, Washington, DC, Norfolk, and Richmond?  The first reader to guess correctly in a comment below will win a free Chesapeake Bay Foundation T-Shirt. 

UPDATE: The answer is the Chesapeake Potomac Hurricane of August 23, 1933, and the winner is Barbara Z, who will receive the prize. 

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Saving the Bay May Take the Whole Community

Saxis1 
The challenge to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, as the old rhythm and blues song says, now gets down to the real nitty gritty.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency has set the goal – cut nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment pollution in the Bay and its rivers to 187 million pounds, 12.5 million pounds, and 6.7 billion pounds respectively. The Bay states have agreed to make that happen over the next 15 years.

 And now it’s up to the citizens and localities in more than 90 small river basins across the Bay region to figure out exactly how they are going to reduce local pollution in local creeks and rivers, which ultimately will reduce pollution in the Bay.

How do local Bay watershed residents get their collective heads around the problems, the solutions, and the challenges – the real nitty gritty – to clean up their backyard streams and creeks? How would you approach it?

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