Bay Journal

October 2000 - Volume 10 - Number 7

Extra efforts to control nutrients could pay off in trade program

For years, making nutrient reductions to help the Chesapeake Bay has meant extra work for farmers and extra expenses for wastewater treatment plants.

Soon, making an extra effort may mean something else: Extra cash.

The Bay Program is actively looking at creating a nutrient “market” in which someone who does more than their fair share to control nitrogen and phosphorus would get “credits” that could be sold to someone who has not been able to do as much.

The idea is to help make nutrient control profitable — and to get more reductions faster than might otherwise occur. ...

Pennsylvania action will slash summertime NOx emissions

Pennsylvania will slash its summertime air emissions of nitrogen oxides from power plants and large industries by nearly 90,000 tons by 2003 under recently approved regulations.

The action, approved in late August by the state’s Independent Regulatory Review Commission, means that the state will have reduced NOx emissions for industries and power plants 75 percent from 1990 levels.

“This is a major step forward to help Commonwealth residents breathe easier,” said Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Jim Seif. ...

PA to review laws for local land use before issuing permit

In an effort to promote sound development, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has begun checking to see whether new projects conform with local land use ordinances before issuing environmental permits.

The policy, which is expected to affect between 5,000 and 25,000 permits reviewed annually by the DEP, took effect in September.

“While other states have looked at how funding decisions affect land use, Pennsylvania is one of the first states to require that local land use plans be considered as part of state environmental reviews of private projects,” said DEP Secretary Jim Seif. ...

Postal Service delivering message to save Bay

The U.S. Postal Service has a new mission — delivering for the Chesapeake Bay.

Bay watershed residents may have already noticed changes at their local post office, such as newly planted blueberry bushes, holly trees, or rhododendrons. These plantings are part of the U.S. Postal Service’s plan to promote BayScaping, an environmentally sound landscaping program that preserves water quality and creates wildlife habitat, while saving time and energy by reducing maintenance and water usage. ...

Supreme Court will review EPA’s stricter standards for ozone, particulates

Pennsylvania will slash its summertime air emissions of nitrogen oxides from power plants and large industries by nearly 90,000 tons by 2003 under recently approved regulations.

The action, approved in late August by the state’s Independent Regulatory Review Commission, means that the state will have reduced NOx emissions for industries and power plants 75 percent from 1990 levels.

“This is a major step forward to help Commonwealth residents breathe easier,” said Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Jim Seif. ...

Report traces most of coastal waters’ ills to excess of nutrients

Unusually large numbers of dying sea lions and manatees. Shellfish poisoning. Widespread fish kills. Loss of sea grass beds. “Killer” algae. Coal reef destruction. “Dead zones” in coastal waters.

They are different problems plaguing different areas, but a new scientific report cites a common source of blame: too many nutrients pouring off the land — and dropping from the sky — into coastal waters.

The report from the National Academy of Sciences concludes that nutrient-related problems are “the greatest pollution threat faced by the coastal marine environment,” and it calls for a nationwide strategy to combat excess nitrogen and phosphorus. ...

Critics predict scary scenario with bioengineered ‘frankenfish’

Among fishermen, bureaucrats and environmentalists, there are increasing concerns these days about genetic tinkering with fish.

In New Zealand, researchers used genetic engineering to develop a strain of chinook salmon they believed could eventually weigh 550 pounds. The company abandoned the project after a public outcry but held onto the frozen sperm.

On Canada’s Prince Edward Island, genetically engineered Atlantic salmon grow four times faster than normal when injected with a protein. ...

Declines offset gains; CBF index same as 1999

Despite progress on shad restoration and promising habitat restoration efforts, the Bay ecosystem has not gotten better in the past year largely because of declines in water quality and growing concerns about blue crabs.

That was the verdict in the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s latest “State of the Bay” report, which scored the Bay’s health at 28 out of a possible 100. The score is based on an average of 13 indicators covering the areas of habitat, pollution and the health of fish and shellfish. ...

Virginia releases tributary strategies for river watersheds, coastal basins

Virginia recently released tributary strategies outlining nutrient and sediment reductions for the Rappahannock, York and James river watersheds as well as the Eastern Shore Coastal Basins. The plans, like those for other major Bay rivers, serve as guides for future nutrient reduction efforts.

Strategies for the Potomac and rivers in Maryland and Pennsylvania were written years ago to achieve the Bay Program’s overall 40 percent nutrient reduction goal for the Chesapeake. But final strategies were delayed for the lower tributaries because they have less of an impact on Chesapeake water quality than Upper Bay tributaries. ...

Citing low population levels, scientists urge curb on blue crab harvest

With strong indications that the Bay’s blue crab population is at a low level, scientists from both Virginia and Maryland say the catch must be reduced to protect both the health of the stock and, ultimately, the income of watermen.

A 27-member work group of scientists and economists was planning to deliver that message to the Bi-State Blue Crab Advisory Committee at a late-September meeting.

If it agrees with the scientists, the Bi-State Committee — made up of lawmakers, state officials, watermen, environmentalists and others — may recommend actions to reduce blue crab harvest pressure. ...

Bay Program strengthens parts of toxics plan

The Bay Program is moving to beef up its new toxics strategy by calling for an eventual “zero release” for toxic runoff, as well as for quicker chemical release reductions from industries and wastewater treatment plants.

The changes were made in response to more than 200 comments received on its draft basinwide toxics strategy, which is to be finalized this fall. Most comments generally supported the strategy and its development process, which included “stakeholder” forums before it was written, as well as a review of the draft by groups representing a wide range of interests. ...

USF & WS launches survey on deformed frogs

Hoping to find clues in the case of the deformed frogs, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this summer used a Bay watershed site to launch a nationwide amphibian study in wildlife refuges.

In the past five years, an increasing number of frogs, toads and other amphibians with severe malformations — such as missing, or extra, limbs — have been observed throughout the United States and around the world.

This summer, biologists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service worked with volunteers to collect amphibians at 43 wildlife refuges in 31 states from Maryland to Alaska for studies aimed at learning the impact of pollutants on amphibian malformations. ...

Delaware signs onto nutrient reduction efforts for Chesapeake

Delaware has pledged to curb the nutrients and sediments that flow from its portion of the Chesapeake basin as part of a watershedwide effort to clean up the Bay by 2010.

Delaware Gov. Thomas Carper on Sept. 13 signed a “memorandum of understanding” that for the first time seeks nutrient reductions from the three upstream states that were never part of formal Bay cleanup agreements. Governors from New York and West Virginia are expected to sign the document, committing their states to abide by future nutrient reduction goals, within the next few weeks. ...

Bay Program falling short of 40% goal to cut nutrients

With the deadline looming for its cornerstone 40 percent nutrient reduction goal, recent calculations indicate the Bay Program will fall short of the mark for both nitrogen and phosphorus.

The deadline for the goal, set in the 1987 Bay Agreement, was the end of this year.

Bay Program officials had long recognized they would miss their nitrogen goal, but a new analysis indicates the shortfall will be greater than thought. Further, officials had expected to meet the phosphorus goal; it now appears they will narrowly miss that mark as well. ...

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