CBF discusses EPA milestone assessments

(ANNAPOLIS, MD)  --  The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) issued these statements following the release of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) assessment of progress made by the states in their 2014-15 milestones. These milestones are part of the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint and commit each jurisdiction to take specific steps to reduce pollution and restore local rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay. The Blueprint goal is to have 60 percent of the pollution-reduction practices necessary to restore water quality in place by 2017 and 100 percent in place by 2025. These practices are aimed at reducing nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment pollution.

Overall, EPA found that:
Pennsylvania did not meet its 2015 goal for nitrogen and sediment pollution reduction and will not meet its 2017 goals for nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment;
Maryland did not meet its 2015 goal for nitrogen pollution reduction but is on track to meet its 2017 goals for nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment; and
Virginia met its 2015 goals for nitrogen and phosphorus, but not sediment, and is on track to meet its 2017 goals for nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment.

CBF President William C. Baker said:
“Progress made is mostly a result of reducing pollution from sewage treatment plants. CBF applauds those efforts.

“The region as a whole, however, is not on track to meet its 2017 goals, largely as a result of Pennsylvania’s failure to reduce nitrogen pollution from agriculture. While we acknowledge that some progress has been made in Pennsylvania, the Commonwealth has consistently failed to meet its goals, missing the mark in the last three two-year milestone periods.

“It is well past time for Pennsylvania to accelerate its pollution-reduction efforts and EPA must do more to ensure that Pennsylvania obeys the law.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture can help with more technical and financial resources for Pennsylvania farmers.

“Restoring water quality in our rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay will create jobs and boost local economies, reduce risks to human health, and leave an important legacy to our children and future generations.”

Harry Campbell, CBF’s Pennsylvania Executive Director, said:
“While Pennsylvania is on track to meet its 2017 target for reducing the amount of sediment damaging our waterways, it has a long way to go if it is to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus pollution, mainly from agriculture.

“Pennsylvania’s rebooted strategy can be a catalyst for the Clean Water Blueprint to reduce pollution damaging our rivers and streams, but without the necessary funding it will not succeed. Sadly, it is still unclear when or if those vital resources will be made available.

“It is time for Pennsylvania to make cleaning up our rivers and streams a priority. Our citizens have a right to clean water and as we approach the clean-up mid-point of 2017, it is unacceptable that the Commonwealth continues to languish in meeting its goals.

“Pennsylvania must take decisive action now or face consequences of EPA action.”

Alison Prost, CBF’s Maryland Executive Director said:
“Marylanders can be proud of the state’s progress upgrading large sewage plants and helping crop farmers reduce pollution from fertilizer, especially because both of these improvements have been funded by taxpayers via state programs.  But CBF shares EPA’s concern that while Maryland has made progress in cleaning up sewage plants and planting cover crops, we won’t succeed if we don’t account for new pollution from developing areas and the expanding poultry industry.

“We’ve waited decades for local governments to reduce polluted runoff. We are pleased that the Hogan Administration says it will hold local governments accountable for fully funding this work, but success will not be achieved until the work is completed. EPA must increase its scrutiny of the stalled efforts to reduce polluted runoff in Maryland. Additionally, pollution trading programs must be rigorously designed and monitored.

“Maryland has made progress in reducing pollution to its rivers, streams and Bay to date and realizes significant economic gains from clean water.  But there is still a great deal of work to be done and Maryland cannot let up on efforts, especially as it continues to grow its population and industries.”

Rebecca LePrell, CBF’s Virginia Executive Director said:
“Virginia’s long-standing investment in upgrading sewage treatment plants plus the commitments made by farmers are the two biggest drivers behind Virginia’s progress. We’re pleased that the Commonwealth’s dedication to restoring our waterways is starting to make a difference.

Even though Pennsylvania has the furthest to go, Virginia cannot slow down its efforts. In fact, our biggest challenge lies ahead when it comes to reducing polluted runoff from cities and suburbs. The importance of strong state funding, regulatory oversight, and local leadership cannot be ignored.

While we commend advances in cutting pollution from wastewater treatment plants and also thank hard-working Virginia farmers for reducing runoff from their land, we cannot lose momentum. Every Virginia farmer can make a difference by putting in more conservation practices, and every urban resident and business owner can help stop polluted runoff.

When it comes to the Blueprint, everyone needs to pitch in to clean up Virginia’s waters.”

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