Thursday, August 9, 2018

PADEP says we'll do better to cut Chesapeake pollution

Storm mess in Annapolis
Scott Dance reports for the Baltimore Sun

Pennsylvania officials on Tuesday conceded to Maryland Gov. 
Larry Hogan and other state leaders in the Chesapeake Bay watershed that the Commonwealth has not done its part to reduce pollution washing into waterways.
Patrick McDonnell, Pennsylvania’s secretary of environmental protection, said that will change as a target to restore Chesapeake ecosystems by 2025 approaches.
“We are committed and developing a plan that gets us to 2025,” he told the Chesapeake Executive Council, a group that oversees the federal Chesapeake Bay Program, at a meeting in Fells Point.
“We are clearly behind,” he said. “But we’ve taken that as an opportunity to double down.”
The promise came a week after Hogan publicly criticized Pennsylvania and New York for sending a deluge of debris and pollution down the Susquehanna River during recent flooding.
Hogan and McDonnell avoided trading barbs at the council’s annual meeting, which brings together the governors of the six bay watershed states, the mayor of Washington and Environmental Protection Agency officials. Both men said Tuesday’s meeting was productive, and that they hoped it would guide continued improvements in Chesapeake ecology.
“The fact that we have an open dialogue with our upstream neighbors is a positive first step,” Hogan said.
The Chesapeake has posted improving scores in recent years on report cards rating indicators such as underwater grass growth, dissolved oxygen levels and populations of rockfish and blue crabs. That progress has led environmentalists and scientists to declare that efforts of the state-federal bay program partnership are working.
But recently released data through the midpoint of a cleanup effort launched in 2010 show Pennsylvania is far from reaching goals for reducing nitrogen and sediment, and is also falling short of a goal for phosphorus reduction.
The data show Maryland and Virginia have missed goals in some areas, too — including targets to reduce the amount of nitrogen runoff coming from farms.

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