Bay Journal

December 1994 - Volume 4 - Number 9

Keeping pace with nutrients

Controlling nutrients in the Bay watershed is like going down an ascending escalator — it seems to take two steps forward to get one step ahead.

The nutrient goal in the 1987 Bay Agreement — reduce the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus reaching the Bay 40 percent from 1985 levels by the turn of the century — seems straightforward enough.

But getting that reduction, it appears, actually means cutting nutrient pollution by far more than 40 percent.

Confused?

Then take a look at figures from the Maryland tributary strategy, the most detailed plan so far that shows how to reach the 40 percent reduction goal. ...

Beyond losses, new study points to large changes in wetland types

A soon-to-be-published “status and trends” report on wetlands in the Bay watershed found that about 36,000 acres were destroyed in the Chesapeake Basin during the 1980s, (See the April 1994 Bay Journal).

But many officials in recent months have been pondering the significance of another finding of the federal study — that tens of thousands of additional acres underwent major transformations.

Those areas were changed from one type of wetland to another. Also changed — but to an uncertain degree — was their habitat and functional roles in the environment. ...

MDE opens new environmental service center to handle permits

The Maryland Department of the Environment has opened a new Environmental Permits Service Center aimed at more effectively controlling pollution while more efficiently handling permits for business.

The new center will coordinate environmental permit requests with MDE administrations, citizens, businesses and environmental groups. In addition, the center will provide current information about permit status and encourage communication among interested groups.

“Through the center, we will build partnerships between communities, government and industry,” said Environment Secretary David A.C. Carroll. “Businesses will be encouraged by EPSC staff to contact local community groups, environmental organizations and elected officials to establish a dialogue in the early stages of the permit application process. The EPSC is a new way of doing business.” ...

EPA tries new approach to cut pollution control costs

The EPA is working with six major U.S. industries to develop a new “common sense” approach to environmental regulation that seeks to reduce pollution “industry by industry” rather than “pollutant by pollutant.”

Dubbed the “Common Sense Initiative,” the agency’s goal is to achieve greater environmental protection at less cost by addressing all the pollution sources for a particular industry — air, water, solid wastes and others — as a package, rather than as separate issues. ...

Maryland nearly halfway to nutrient management goal

The Maryland Department of Agriculture has neared the halfway mark of its tributary strategy goal of putting nutrient management plans in place on 60 percent of the state’s cropland by the year 2000.

What has helped make that possible, officials say, was a new program to train and certify private consultants to help write plans for farmers — an effort which may soon boost efforts in other states. The Executive Council has committed itself to making it easier for private consultants to practice in each of the Bay states. ...

Bay Journal marks milestone; circulation tops 40,000

This is the 39th edition of the Bay Journal since the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay began publishing it in March 1991, and it marks a milestone — with this issue, the readership passes the 40,000 mark, roughly double its initial printing.

In a world of sound-bite news, it shows that some people are interested in getting more detailed information. Since its inception, the Bay Journal has helped to meet that need by expanding from eight pages to 16, adding new features, and becoming a member of the Associated Press. ...

Voters decided environmental initiatives across the nation

Ballot initiatives related to environmental issues were put before voters across the nation during the November elections.

In what may have been the most closely watched environmental campaign, Arizona voters defeated a controversial “Private Property Rights Protection Act” by nearly 60 percent to 40 percent, even though it was backed by a governor who won re-election.

The measure would have required that the state assess potential private property losses before imposing new rules and regulations. If approved, all state agencies would have had the power to block any environmental or other rule that were found to reduce the value of private property. ...

GOP ‘contract’ would stem costly environmental rules

The Republican takeover of Congress could quickly change the nation’s environmental laws if the GOP passes its “Contract With America,” which party leaders have promised to vote on within the first 100 days of the 104th Congress.

The contract is a package of 10 bills which more than 300 GOP House candidates signed in late September. The members did not guarantee passing the measures; only bringing them to a vote. Members of the Senate did not sign the contract.

Parts of the contract call for such things as a balanced budget amendment and term limits for members of Congress. But one of the measures, the Job Creation and Wage Enforcement Act, would limit the amount of regulations — including environmental initiatives — that the government could impose on businesses and landowners. ...

Major change coming to Executive Council in 1995

The Chesapeake Executive Council — the top policy making body for the Bay restoration effort — will undergo its greatest turnover since the signing of the 1983 Bay Agreement as the result of the November elections.

When the six-member council meets next year, it will have four different members from this year’s meeting — new governors from Pennsylvania and Maryland, a new mayor from the District of Columbia, and a new chairman of the Chesapeake Bay Commission.

But one of those — the District’s Mayor-elect Marion Barry — had previously served on the council during an earlier 12-years stint as mayor. During his previous terms of office, Barry signed the 1983 Bay Agreement, which generally called for a cooperative effort to restore the Chesapeake, and the 1987 Bay Agreement, which began setting cleanup goals, such as the 40 percent nutrient reduction. Next year, Barry will be the only council member to have signed either document. ...

EPA targets air pollution from marine engines

The EPA has proposed new standards that would sharply reduce emissions from new gasoline and diesel-powered marine engines.

Beginning in 1998, the EPA will require marine engine manufacturers to begin phasing in, over a nine-year period, cleaner-burning boat engines and motors for self-propelled water skis and sleds.

The new pollution controls will add 10 percent to 15 percent to the price of a boat engine, the EPA estimated, but the agency said boaters will save money from a 30 percent increase in fuel economy and improved performance. ...

Programs fall short of ‘no net loss’ goal; CBF calls for effort to restore wetlands

State and federal regulatory programs have slowed but failed to halt the loss of wetlands in the Bay watershed, concludes a new report by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

And while those programs have failed to meet a “no net loss” goal for wetlands as hoped, neither have they been overly burdensome for landowners as developers have claimed, CBF found. Almost all wetland permits that are applied for are approved.

Overall, the Annapolis-based environmental group characterized its findings as a “good news and bad news” story — the good news being that wetland programs are “on the right track,” the bad news being that, for a variety of reasons, losses are continuing. ...

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