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EPA Moves to Restore Chesapeake Bay

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Juvenile blue crab, Poplar IslandSince the attempts of Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-VA) to protect his big agriculture & tobacco donors the Chesapeake Bay were flunked, I'm glad to see President Obama's Environmental Protection Agency stepping in to provide a real plan:
Shawn M. Garvin, the agency's regional administrator for the mid-Atlantic, described the plan as "the largest water pollution strategy plan in the nation" and possibly "number one or number two" in the world. He noted that it will affect "basically every drop of water that gets to the bay" from as far north as Upstate New York.

The legally enforceable road map, which runs roughly 200 pages along with 800 pages of appendices, will help determine everything from how pig farms in West Virginia will dispose of waste to the way Pennsylvania copes with stormwater runoff. Environmentalists hailed it as the most promising plan the United States has ever adopted to revive an estuary plagued by low oxygen and struggling fish and oyster populations, while some critics warned it could be costly and hard to execute.

It's saving the Bay that could be costly? Damaging the Bay has cost the economies of Virginia, Maryland & DC more than $4 billion over the last 30 years. Hopefully the EPA's plan is the first step towards real leadership on restoration - something that's been lacking in a generation worth of elected officials from both political parties.

McDonnell: Meh, Chesapeake Bay Fine The Way It Is

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Sunrise over the Pound Nets, Chesapeake Bay_6-7-08Dead 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?

Delegate Al Pollard: “Dear Delegate Gilbert”

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Nice job by Del. Al Pollard (D-Northern Neck), pushing back against Del. Todd Gilbert (R-Page, Rappahannock, Shenandoah) for "rhetoric [that] might be great for the campaign trail, [but that] does nothing to solve the problem of a Chesapeake Bay so polluted it is literally killing those who merely want to make a living and carry on their family tradition." {Note: also see Sen. Donald McEachin's comments on Gilbert's "utter nonsense."}
The View from Downstream
By Delegate Albert C. Pollard, Jr.
August 23, 2010

Dear Delegate Gilbert:

I am writing concerning the article I read on August 2 in which you blame the crowd at "wine and cheese parties" for shoving the Chesapeake Bay cleanup down the throats of the agricultural community.

As rural legislators, your district and my district share many similar characteristics, however, our districts have a major distinction and that is my district is down river of yours.  This is particularly important because your area of the state is a nutrient hotspot -- meaning you import corn, export chicken and keep the manure, sending the nitrogen and phosphorous downstream through your surface and groundwater.

Sen. McEachin: Del. Gilbert’s Chesapeake Bay Conspiracy Comments “Utter Nonsense”

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Great stuff as always from Sen. Donald McEachin, this time blasting back at an anti-environment Republican delegate's "utter nonsense" - this time, a supposed "conspiracy" with regard to cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay. Uh, yeah, right.
Senator A. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico) today released this statement countering Delegate
Todd's remarks about the Chesapeake Bay over the past weekend. Senator McEachin said, "I was dismayed to hear that yet another Republican has joined the Republican efforts to turn back the clock and not do what is critically necessary to protect the Chesapeake Bay. This time it's Delegate Todd Gilbert who is doing his best to create misplaced fear with false accusations. Just this past weekend he told a group of young farmers that attempts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay are really a conspiracy of "urban" legislators to take farms away and destroy farmers' "heritage."

"This is, of course, utter nonsense. Cleaning up the Bay will protect farmers by ensuring they have a clean water source for their crops. Moreover, a clean Chesapeake Bay will protect other critical jobs here in the Commonwealth. Watermen need a clean Bay for their fishing businesses to prosper. Tourism depends on access to clean unpolluted waters."