Sunday, January 3, 2010

EPA to Hold States, Washington, D.C. Accountable for Chesapeake Bay Cleanup

(January 3, 2010) - Utilizing the authority of the Clean Water Act and an executive order by President Obama, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency hopes to accelerate the cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay.

The EPA recently completed an “accountability framework” that will set limits on the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment which can be introduced to the Bay and its waterways by states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

“President Obama, EPA and the states want real, measurable results to restore and protect the Chesapeake Bay,” EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said in a statement. “To get there EPA is strengthening support for our partners, setting clear standards for progress, and ensuring accountability if those standards aren’t met.”

Technical assistance will be provided to help the states comprising the Chesapeake Bay watershed—Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia and Washington, D.C.—to improve the performance and accountability of pollution control programs. A total of $11.2 million in grants for the 2010 fiscal year will also be provided to meet those goals.

To ensure that counties, municipalities, conservation districts and watershed organizations understand their role and play their part in meeting outlined water quality goals, the EPA expects the states and D.C. to further divide their pollution limits down to the local level by 2011. By 2017, pollution controls should be in place that are expected to reduce bay pollution by 60 percent, and the EPA said all required pollution control programs must be ready by 2025.

Each jurisdiction must meet milestones every two years. If they fail to do so, the EPA can impose consequences including: an increase in federal enforcement and compliance in the watershed; prohibiting new or expanded pollution discharges; and redirecting EPA grants.

“Pollution in the Chesapeake is a challenge that has persisted for decades,” Jackson said. “This federal-state partnership presents new opportunities for cleanup, and we’re increasing support and accountability to be sure we get the job done.”

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