Urging the next president to make the Chesapeake a higher priority, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in September released what it characterized as a "clean water agenda" highlighting actions the next administration could take to help the Bay.
Whether it is Barak Obama or John McCain, the organization hopes the next president uses the 16-point plan to accelerate actions that would help clean up the Bay, improve environmental education and have federal agencies play a bigger role in Chesapeake issues.
"Without the government as a significant partner, restoration of the Bay is going to be extremely difficult, and it is time for the federal government to step up to the plate," said Roy Hoagland, CBF vice president for environmental protection and restoration. "We hope it will drive the actions of the next administration in Bay restoration."
Although the CBF has produced such agendas in past gubernatorial elections, he said this was the first time it had prepared one during a presidential campaign. Part of that stems from recent successes in highlighting Bay issues at the national level, such as winning greatly increased support for conservation programs targeting the Chesapeake in the Farm Bill, Hoagland said.
The 16 actions aim to reduce pollution from agriculture, sewage, urban runoff, automobiles and power plants, and improve water quality in local rivers, streams and the Chesapeake Bay. Among the recommendations:
- Direct the EPA to use its full authority-and seek additional authority from Congress if necessary-to develop the Baywide nutrient reduction plan, known as a Total Maximum Daily Load, and to ensure that states comply with the plan.
- Direct the U.S. Department of Agriculture to prioritize conservation assistance to hot spots-those regions providing the highest pollution loads. Not only should the limited conservation funding be focused, but it should also target practices that provide the greatest water quality benefits.
- Set a goal of zero discharge of runoff from federally funded highways, and working with Congress, use a small portion of federal transportation funding to install proven technologies to reduce highway runoff. The majority of federal roadways were built without pollution runoff controls.
- Support No Child Left Inside legislation, which provides incentives for states to develop environmental literacy plans and funding for high-quality, environmental instruction. Such plans help states demonstrate how they will incorporate outdoor and environmental instruction and ensure that their graduates are environmentally literate.
- Tighten emission standards for power plants and automobiles by adopting California's automobile emissions standards nationwide, and by working with Congress to enact legislation requiring strict nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide and mercury emissions to take the place of the Clean Air Interstate Rule and the Clean Air Mercury Rule, which were nullified by court decisions.
- Direct the National Marine Fisheries Service to play a leadership role in advancing ecosystems-based fisheries management and work with the states to preserve and restore blue crabs, oysters and menhaden.
The plan, "Restoring Clean Water and the Chesapeake Bay: A Plan for America's Next President," is available at www.cbf.org.