Maryland officials plan to target air pollution, improve wildlife habitat and promote public participation during the coming year as part of the state's effort to clean up the Chesapeake Bay.

Most of the items outlined recently by Gov. William Donald Schaefer in Maryland's 1991 Chesapeake Bay Agenda involve building cooperation for action between governments, citizens and businesses, rather than calling for expensive new programs.

"We cannot let tough budget times be an excuse for not continuing our progress," Schaefer said. "We must be smarter and more resourceful to make our dollars go the extra mile to restore the Bay."

Maryland's 1991 program will emphasize four general categories: controlling pollution; creating wildlife habitat; promoting growth management; and increasing citizen involvement. Dozens of individual action items are included in the plan.

Among the actions called for is the creation of a Comprehensive Permit Review which would allow state regulators to take a look at an entire project or facility and determine what actions are needed to protect natural resources rather than having individual reviews for air, water, and other required permits.

The program also calls for increased emphasis on pollution prevention, including the use of tax incentives and fees to promote the minimization of waste from industry and the creation of a clearinghouse through which business and government can exchange information about pollution prevention techniques.

Among other goals, the plan calls for:

  • Increasing permit compliance at small municipal wastewater treatment plants and industrial facilities (those which discharge less than 1 million gallons of water daily) to 95 percent. The current compliance rate is about 90 percent.
  • Reducing airborne pollution to the Bay, particularly emissions of oxides of nitrogen which add nutrients to the Chesapeake, by working with other states in the region to encourage tougher vehicle emission standards like those used in California. The state also plans transportation improvements in the Baltimore-Washington corridor to reduce pollution, and will expand its vehicle emissions inspection program.
  • Creating new wildlife habitat by encouraging habitat creation on private land; using clean dredge materials to create new habitat such as wetlands; and by creating 'Habitat Teams' that will combine efforts of citizens, businesses, with those of state and local officials to improve habitat in several designated areas.
  • Building consensus for managing growth by supporting workshops, and by working with legislators, local government officials, business leaders and others to raise awareness of the impact of growth and development on both the quality of life and the Bay.
  • Increasing public understanding of issues and involvement in environmental solutions by providing information about actions they can take around the home; encouraging citizens to report suspected environmental problems; encouraging 'Environmental Town Meetings' between citizens and local officials; and conducting a 'Breath Easy Week' to demonstrate the clean air benefits of reduced auto use. Also, the state plans initiatives to increase minority participation in environmental careers and to promote international environmental cooperation to solve problems which will involve hosting an international conference on 'Environmental Management of Coastal Seas' during 1993.