Dead zones spawned by runoff from farm fields, urban sprawl & inadequate water treatment plants? Crab populations constantly on the brink of collapse? Oysters in need of human helping hands just to survive? Watermen having to go to court to preserve their way of life?
Gov. Bob McDonnell’s response: Sounds fine to me!
The restoration plan developed by Virginia offers tax incentives to farmers to use pollution- and erosion-reducing practices, yet still estimates the cost to agriculture could range up to $800 million. It also calls for the expansion of other programs intended to limit bay pollution.
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation was unsparing in its criticism, saying the plan lacks details and is “stunningly deficient on how the commonwealth will implement many of these proposals.”
J.R. Tolbert, assistant director of the Virginia chapter of the Sierra Club, said the plan relies too heavily on voluntary measures and General Assembly passage of program expansions aimed at a cleaner bay. He called it a “status quo” plan.
“I think our governor has an approach that the free market is going to solve all the problems of the world,” Tolbert said. “We’ve spent the last 25 years relying on the free market to clean up the Chesapeake Bay and, while we’ve made a little bit of progress, we have failed time and time again.“
Considering McDonnell has gotten more than $1.1 million from agriculture interests in his career, should we be surprised who he’s looking out for here?