Today, the Chesapeake Executive Council (EC) held its annual meeting to discuss the course of Bay restoration. For the first time, the meeting was held virtually. Notably missing from the meeting were Pennsylvania Governor Wolf and EPA Administrator Wheeler. Topics at the meeting included the signing of the EC statement in support of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (DEIJ), and how restoration efforts are being affected by COVID-19.
Following the meeting, Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) President William C. Baker issued this statement.
“The DEIJ statement is a good first step. As CBF’s DEIJ mission statement says, ‘Just as biodiversity is the key to a thriving ecosystem, human diversity is the key to saving the Bay. Success depends on people from widely diverse backgrounds, cultures, ethnicities, identities, and races taking collective action.’ As Dr. Janice Underwood so articulately stated, the Bay Program DEIJ efforts are essential for the success of Bay restoration. Success will require transparency, including specific deliverables and metrics. We look forward to working with Dr. Underwood and the Bay Program moving forward in the efforts to promote diversity.
“We all acknowledge that the COVID-19 pandemic is an unparalleled challenge. However, it also underscores the irreplaceable value of our natural resources, as people turn to the outdoors for both mental and physical health. Taking action to reduce pollution now is more critical than ever. Protecting and improving water quality for future generations also supports local businesses, creates jobs, and provides additional environmental and public health benefits.
“Once again this year, Bay restoration leaders ignored the elephant in the room. Pennsylvania’s plan to meet the goals that all agreed on is woefully inadequate and implementation is seriously off-track. With only five years to go until the 2025 deadline, Bay restoration efforts are now in jeopardy. Unless the Commonwealth finds a way to meet its commitments, the investments that the other Bay states are making will improve local water quality, but the Bay will not be restored.
“Some of the best science in the world has clearly defined what needs to be done. But the political will to do what the science says seems to be absent. Not just in Pennsylvania, but just as importantly at EPA, which abdicated its Clean Water Act responsibilities to hold the Commonwealth accountable.”