Photos of the Month: January

January sunrise-Sheri Hill-1171x593

A duck quietly swims on a brisk January morning in North Beach, Maryland.

Sheri Hill

January was full of beautiful winter sunrises and wildlife, but the New Year also comes with new legislative sessions and federal rollbacks to important environmental laws. Take a look at some of the major news and photo highlights below from us, our partners, and supporters!

Do you have a favorite Chesapeake photo you took this month that you'd like to submit to be featured as one of our Photos of the Month? Upload your digital photo here or tag us in your photo on your public Twitter or Instagram. We look forward to seeing your photos!

Instagram and Twitter Photos

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‼️ BREAKING ‼️ In a win for clean air, clean water, the people of Union Hill, and environmental justice, the Fourth Circuit court vacated the Virginia air permit for the proposed Buckingham Compressor Station in Union Hill! Backstory: In 1885, Taylor Harper, a former slave, bought 25 acres of land for $15 from a plantation where he had worked for two decades. Other freed slaves settled nearby, forming Union Hill, an unincorporated town in rural Buckingham County, Virginia, about 30 miles south of Charlottesville. Nowadays, this largely African American community lacks basic services. No jobs, no broadband internet access, no grocery stores, and no doctors or hospitals. Many residents live below the poverty line. Early last year, the Virginia State Air Pollution Control Board approved a permit for a compressor station in Union Hill that is designed to pump gas through the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. This industrial facility would run on four large turbines that burn natural gas 24 hours a day, 365 days a year—creating constant noise and spewing emissions into Union Hill's skies, threatening the health of residents and the Bay. Together with the Southern Environmental Law Center and Friends of Buckingham, we challenged this permit and today, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals threw out the air permit for this compressor station. Congratulations to all those involved in this big win!

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Hunker on down because 2020 is already proving to be a wild one for the Bay! ICYMI, yesterday was a big day in Maryland. Not only did the 2020 General Assembly begin, but Governor Larry Hogan directed the state's attorney general to pursue legal actions against Pennsylvania and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in an effort to protect Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts. This comes after Pennsylvania submitted it's Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint—the federally mandated plan to reduce pollution to the Bay by 2025—to the EPA last fall that had an annual funding gap of more than $300 million and fell 25 percent short of the required nitrogen reduction set for the state. (In case your wondering how Maryland and Virginia stack up, they're both mostly on track to meet their pollution reduction goals by 2025.) Pennsylvania is the lynchpin of the Chesapeake Bay cleanup. The state makes up the bulk of the Susquehanna River’s watershed and the Susquehanna supplies about 50 percent of the freshwater that enters the Bay. We need clean water in Pennsylvania to have a clean Bay. PLUS this direction comes days after EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program Director Dana Aunkst addressed the 2025 deadline and said that the goals of restoring the Bay by implementing the Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Blueprint, were merely "aspirational" and not legally enforceable. Phew—and that's just yesterday... more to come! 📷: Doug Donegan #SaveTheBay #ChesBay

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ICYMI: Last week in an unprecedented assault on the Clean Water Act, the Trump Administration unveiled a new rule slashing federal protections for wetlands and waterways that are essential to restoring the Chesapeake Bay. The administration's new definition of "Waters of the United States" unravels safeguards in place since the landmark law was enacted in 1972. It excludes streams that only flow after heavy rains or snow, groundwater, and most roadside and farm ditches. It also leaves out waters and wetlands that cross state borders. The Chesapeake Bay is fed by an intricate network of creeks, streams, and rivers spanning tens of thousands of miles and 1.5 million acres of wetlands, which play an essential role supporting the waters and diverse wildlife of the Bay's 64,000 square-mile watershed. Wetlands trap polluted runoff, absorb storm surges, slow the flow of pollutants into the Bay, and provide critical habitat for the region's birds, fish, invertebrates, and mammals. In the Bay watershed, the rule will do the most damage in Delaware, the District of Columbia, and West Virginia, which primarily rely on the federal definition to protect wetlands and streams within their borders. Almost 200,000 acres of wetlands in Delaware alone are now at risk of destruction. Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, and Virginia have additional state water protection programs, but will still feel the impact because their programs all have holes the rule will only make worse. 📷: Pristine wetlands at the mouth of the Nansemond River by Morgan Heim

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