The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) has released its Chesapeake Bay and Watershed Report Card for 2020 and its overall score remained unchanged from last year at a B-. Its Chesapeake Bay health score improved from a C- to a C. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s (CBF) State of the Bay report, issued earlier this year, showed no improvement, and scored a D+. CBF’s report and the UMCES report are not directly comparable as the indicators evaluated are different.
Following the UMCES report release, Alison Prost, CBF Vice President for Environmental Protection and Restoration issued this statement.
“The UMCES report is yet another confirmation that we are far short of a restored Bay. With the 2025 deadline just around the corner, the states and federal government must accelerate efforts to reduce pollution or Bay restoration efforts are in jeopardy.
“The federal partners in Bay restoration must step up to the plate. EPA must hold the states accountable for meeting their requirements. And since agriculture is being counted on for more than 80 percent of the pollution reduction still needed, USDA must deliver more conservation funding and technical assistance to the region.”
While Maryland and Virginia have plans to achieve the 2025 goal, additional funding and implementation are critical. Pennsylvania’s plan, however, is sorely deficient and the Commonwealth needs to increase spending by more than $300 million dollars annually to implement a plan that does not even achieve the requirements.
CBF and the Attorneys General for Virginia, the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Delaware are suing EPA over its failure to hold Pennsylvania accountable for its commitments.
This year, for the first time, the UMCES report card has three indicators that address some diversity issues, the Social Index, Walkability, and the Heat Vulnerability Index. Next year they plan to include indicators that address economic disparities.
Concerning the new and upcoming indicators, Ms. Prost said:
“There are a vast array of races, ethnicities, and genders among the 18 million people who live in the Chesapeake Bay region. And there are environmental injustices that cause disproportionate harm to the watershed’s communities of color. We applaud UMCES for beginning to look at these new indicators. Accountability is imperative to combat racism.”