OXON HILL, MD—Today, the Chesapeake Executive Council, composed of leaders from the six Chesapeake Bay watershed states and the District of Columbia, the Chair of the Chesapeake Bay Commission, and the EPA Administrator gathered to discuss progress toward the 2025 pollution reduction goals their states must meet under the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint.
The meeting took place after the states released the third phase of their Clean Water Blueprints, or watershed implementation plans. The plans detail how the states will reduce Bay pollutants by 2025. Pennsylvania's plan falls woefully short of its nitrogen reduction goal and includes a funding gap of more than $320 million per year.
Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia contribute about 90 percent of the pollution that enters the Bay. As Pennsylvania's cleanup lags, Maryland and Virginia's plans are on track to reach their pollution reduction goals.
At the meeting, Pennsylvania's significant shortfall was not directly addressed by EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler nor the leaders of the other Bay states until it was brought up by the press.
Pennsylvania's lackluster efforts are threatening years of progress under the collaborative cleanup agreement established in 2010. The state's legislature and governor are letting down other states and its own conservation community.
Today, CBF called on the Executive Council to do three things:
• Reaffirm their commitment to the 2025 pollution reduction goals and ensure their state blueprints meet the goals.
• Identify additional state and federal funds to assist Pennsylvania's efforts to meet its required goals.
• Urge the EPA to use its authority under the Clean Water Act to hold Pennsylvania accountable if the state's cleanup efforts continue to lag.
CBF will consider all options, including a legal challenge, if EPA fails to hold Pennsylvania accountable.
Following the Executive Council meeting, CBF President William Baker issued the following statement:
"I'm disappointed by the lack of leadership today. There was a 600-pound gorilla in the room that was ignored. As long as Pennsylvania is over $300 million short on its cleanup plan, we are not going to save the Bay. EPA must enforce the Clean Water Act and hold Pennsylvania accountable. We will seriously consider our legal options if we don't see action."