Editor's note: The following is an excerpt from William C. Baker's remarks at a June 12 news conference.
Today, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation is releasing Turning the Tide: Saving the Chesapeake Bay. At over 300 pages, we believe it is the definitive state of the Bay report. It tells how the Bay works, why it is in trouble, and how to save it.
We came to Washington to release this book because Washington is the seat of our federal government, and we believe that the federal government's commitment to saving the Bay must be recharged.
We are here today to challenge, respectfully, the Bush Administration, its Environmental Protection Agency, and members of Congress to restore the Chesapeake Bay cleanup to a position of prominence on the national agenda. We also challenge the states to embrace the recommendations we make and to move quickly to implement them.
We have heard a lot of talk about using the Bay cleanup as a model for other parts of the country. To be a model program, however, it must be successful. And to be successful in the face of 3 million more people moving into the region over the next 20-30 years, the program¹s leaders must be bold.
We are here today with a message of hope; with a message of optimism; with a message of confidence that we can save the Chesapeake Bay. Our proposals are far- reaching; they are comprehensive. They are a package, a collective plan for the future of the Bay that if followed will, we believe, lead to its restoration.
Our job at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation is to be a catalyst, to push government, the private sector, each and every individual in the watershed toward a way of conducting their lives that will lead to a clean and healthy Chesapeake Bay.
We do not come with criticism for the past 10 years. Rather, we come with strong praise both for the institutions of government and for the hundreds, if not thousands of local, state, and federal employees who have worked so diligently. We have made a good start.
But if anyone thinks the job has been completed, or even that a workable plan to complete it exists, they are wrong. Now is not the time to rest on our laurels; now is the time to use all of our vast knowledge to boldly, creatively, and effectively chart a course into the next century for saving the Bay. The quality of the Bay is simply not good enough yet.
And so while we give high marks to the Bay Program for past performance, we give low marks for future planning. The Executive Council and its chairman must once again take the leadership to drive this program forward.
This book has been widely distributed. We hope that the officials charged with directing the Bay cleanup will endorse these recommendations and the conceptual framework for saving the Bay that we outline. If they do not, I hope they will tell the public why.
Not surprisingly, environmental declines similar to the Chesapeake's are now being revealed worldwide. In the United States, coastal pollution struggles are being joined from Puget Sound to Galveston Bay; from Pamlico Sound, North Carolina to Casco Bay, Maine.
Our successes and failure here are more than a barometer for one tiny indentation of the Earth's coastline. They represent nothing less than a national and international test of the possibilities for reconciling growing human demands with the integrity of the natural environment.
It is not overstatement to say the world is watching. The Bay can be saved. We at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation are determined to succeed in our mission. We will not let up until we have done so.