Chesapeake Bay Group Wants EPA to Be Aggressive
With its 10th annual State of the Bay report continuing to show no significant progress, Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) President William C. Baker on April 15 challenged the U.S.Environmental Protection Agency to use its regulatory authority to take aggressive new action to reduce pollution.
"That the Chesapeake Bay, a national treasure, remains in critical condition is outrageous. It is a national disgrace," said CBF President Will Baker. "Who are we kidding? It is 2009 and this national treasure is still getting trashed, while government refuses to use every possible tool available to stop it. When will EPA exercise its regulatory authority under the Clean Water Act to set a strict pollution reduction mandate and enforce it? Do laws mean nothing when it is only nature that is getting injured?"
CBF is calling on EPA to take three actions:
* It must stop issuing permits for new development projects that increase pollution in local waterways, absent a two to one offset. New discharges from sewage treatment plants and industry would also be prohibited.
* It must require reductions in polluted runoff from urban and suburban lands.
* It must deny air pollution permits for all new coal-fired power plants that pollute the region’s waterways.
"These are actions that EPA can take today," Baker said. "However the ultimate success will only be achieved when EPA takes a leadership role in working to restore the Bay as a single ecological system. From the headwaters to the Atlantic Ocean, EPA must manage the efforts of the six state and numerous local governments with milestones, accountability, and consequences for goals not met."
CBF along with several partners have filed a lawsuit demanding that EPA exercise its full authority under the Clean Water Act (CWA) and meet its obligations under the Chesapeake Bay agreements. The CWA requires that the waters of the nation be fishable and swimmable, and the Bay agreements require sufficient reductions in pollution to remove it from the "impaired waters" list by 2010. This year’s State of the Bay health index remained at 28, an unacceptable "D" grade, still impaired and far from the fishable and swimmable standard.