It is my great honor to accept the chair of the Chesapeake Executive Council and to follow Gov. Tim Kaine in leading this important partnership. As demonstrated by his leadership and actions during the last four years, these are very big shoes to fill.
Our challenge is to maintain and build on the momentum the Executive Council has created in this last year-and to live up to the promise of all that we've set in motion in 2009.
In less than one year, we have taken historic steps. We began with President Barack Obama's executive order, one of the most significant steps toward a comprehensive Bay cleanup in 25 years.
We've released reports with a broad analysis of the many challenges we face, and used those reports to build an ambitious draft strategy for restoring and protecting the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed.
And-perhaps most importantly-we've established benchmarks for real, measurable, near-term progress. Every two years, we will measure our success, allowing us to adjust where we need changes, and strengthen the programs that work.
As we take on this challenge-a challenge that we all know has persisted for decades-it is critical that we stand up and show the results of our investments and our hard work. We have to send a clear message to the people who are watching us and waiting for action: The time for talking has passed. We are ready to act and we are settling for nothing less than real results.
Governor Kaine's leadership through all of this has been instrumental. He has seen this process through with a passion for the cultural, economic, health and environmental life of the Chesapeake Bay and its communities. He has a profound understanding of the irreplaceable value of this national treasure.
Governor Kaine's passion helped to make this an important priority for President Obama-who has mobilized agencies all across federal government to work in partnership with the states and D.C. to get this job done. All of which has set the stage for 2010.
We've set the stage for the most rigorous framework to date for reducing pollution in the watershed. We've set the stage for bringing together the efforts of the District, the states and the federal government. And we've set the stage for taking on traditional pollution and degradation, as well as new challenges and nonpoint sources that will require innovation and creativity.
We've also set the stage for accountability - with benchmarks to meet in the months ahead.
In May, we will release a final collaborative strategy, with full implementation set to begin this year.
We will also be focused on new Total Maximum Daily Load standards. By the summer of 2010, the states and D.C. will submit draft plans for TMDL pollution limits and reductions. By November, the states and D.C. will identify gaps in programs that must be closed to meet pollution limits. And by December 2010, we will finalize Total Maximum Daily Load standards.
That TMDL standard will-for the very first time-provide a detailed plan for meeting water quality goals. That will mean clear expectations, specific timetables for implementation and backstop measures to ensure accountability.
The EPA is committed to providing robust support and partnership. Along with technical assistance, that also includes an additional $11.2 million in grants for the states in fiscal year 2010. This more than doubles the state funding levels of 2009, and will go specifically to permitting, enforcement and other key regulatory activities.
Overall, we want to ensure that we are empowering local efforts, that we are making decisions based on the very best science and that we are providing federal leadership.
The communities and citizens of Chesapeake Bay watershed have waited too long for the clean water and a healthy environment they deserve.
We have an opportunity and a responsibility to get this job done right-right now.
Governor Kaine has helped to start us down the right path, and made sure that the amazing talent and passion of the Chesapeake Bay Program partnership is mobilized in the best ways possible. I'm honored to take his place, and I look forward to working with all of you in the months and years ahead.