The more than 30-year-old regional partnership of governments called the Chesapeake Bay Program recently released a proposed new draft agreement for improving the estuary’s health.
Two previous Chesapeake Bay agreements, in 1987 and 2000, resulted in some improvements to water quality in the Bay and its tributaries. But overall, the state governments in the region and Washington, D.C., fell far short of the goals in those agreements. As a result, in December 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency stepped in and issued pollution limits for the Chesapeake Bay and warned of financial consequences to the state governments and D.C. if they did not implement programs by 2025 to restore the Bay to health. The states then issued plans to meet these limits called the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint.
CBF Vice President for Environmental Protection and Restoration Kim Coble said there are some things to celebrate in the proposed new Bay agreement, such as the fact that it holds states accountable to the Clean Water Blueprint. But she added that the new draft agreement is “shortsighted” in that it eliminates an important goal in the last agreement: to reduce toxic pollutants in the Bay, such as mercury. “CBF is shocked that the new draft Agreement contains no specific goals to reduce toxic contamination,” Coble said.
The new proposed agreement is also lacking because it fails to discuss climate change.
“We are also shocked that this draft Agreement fails to address one of the most critical environmental challenges to our planet: global climate change. How could this be possible in 2014?” Coble said.
These are two areas in which the new agreement needs to be strengthened.
“CBF acknowledges the hard work and commitment that has led to progress restoring the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers and streams during the past 30 years," Coble said. “There is much about which everyone should feel proud, but there is still more work to do.”
By Tom Pelton
Chesapeake Bay Foundation
(Photo by Krista Schlyer/ILCP)