Governor Martin O'Malley Announces Plans to Accelerate Bay Restoration
2-Year milestones to target nutrient reduction deadline of 2020
MOUNT VERNON, VA (May 12, 2009) - Governor Martin O’Malley today announced a suite of ambitious two-year milestones to accelerate Maryland’s on-the-ground efforts to reach its current nutrient reduction goals by a newly established end date of 2020. The Governor made the announcement at the 26th meeting of the Chesapeake Executive Council, the multi-jurisdictional partnership that coordinates regional Bay restoration programming.
“For decades now, policy makers have set and reset restoration goals for 10 or more years into the future, all the while knowing that true progress lies in holding ourselves accountable for what we can do during our own political lifetimes,” said Governor O’Malley. “Over the past 2 and a half years, even we have spent too much time debating — focusing on missed goals, bad report cards and lack of resources — and not enough time holding our own feet to the fire. This changes today, with two-year milestones that will demand a new level of accountability and set a new course for making real progress on the ground.”
With last year’s acknowledgement that the Bay jurisdictions would fall short of their long term nutrient reduction deadline of 2010, the Executive Council committed to developing the new shorter term goals to accelerate progress and bolster accountability. In Maryland, Governor O’Malley and his team used the BayStat process to develop the new 2-year milestones, which include:
- Doubling of the State’s cover crop program;
- Expanding efforts to establish forested buffers and wetlands on both public and private lands, primarily through the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program;
- Retrofitting stormwater on over 90,000 acres;
- Upgrading over 3,000 septic systems;
- Upgrading several sewage treatment plants to ENR; and
- Reducing nitrogen deposition from our power plants through measures required through the Healthy Air Act.
“Successfully implementing these milestones will stretch our financial and technical abilities,” said Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary John Griffin. “However, through this suite of actions, Maryland will meet its nitrogen reduction goal of an additional 3.75 million pounds and its phosphorus reduction goal of an additional 193,000 pounds by December 31, 2011."
As to the longer term deadline, Governor O’Malley committed his Administration to reaching the State’s current nutrient reduction goals by 2020, five years earlier than the 2025 end date agreed to by the other jurisdictions.
“While we respect the varied circumstances of our Bay partners, we feel strongly that in Maryland we need this stretch goal to maintain our own sense of urgency,” said Governor O’Malley.
Governor O’Malley and his Bay Cabinet will use BayStat to publicly track progress on the new milestones, and have put into place a series of contingency plans to meet any shortfalls and set the foundation for the next set of goals. Areas currently under development include:
- Further increasing implementation of streamside buffers on both agricultural and developed lands;
- Requiring further use of best available technologies in septic systems, building on our legislative success in 2009 that requires use in the Critical Area;
- Implementing ammonia emissions reductions at poultry houses;
- Conducting an independent review of Maryland’s nutrient management planning program and develop farm specific performance goals;
- Requiring the stormwater impact of each new acre of development be offset through retrofitting two acres of pre-1985 developed land;
- Requiring similar septic system offsets, upgrading 2 systems for each new septic system installation; and
- Increasing funding for the new Chesapeake Bay Trust fund as needed.
“We know, of course, that these ambitious plans will only be successful with the full commitment and involvement of our state agencies, county governments, municipalities, soil conservation districts, tributary teams, NGOS and our businesses and citizens,” said Governor O’Malley. “And to ensure these partners are fully engaged, we are bringing both technical and financial resources to them through new programming, including our Chesapeake Bay Trust Fund.”
Yesterday, on a tour of the Bush River, Governor O’Malley and senior scientists discussed two new strategies to accelerate Bay restoration in Maryland. Citing what scientists call a “tipping point” — a stage at which progress within a tributary can begin to promote self-healing — the Governor announced plans for a major new outreach effort to enlist local governments, businesses and citizens to take a more active role in restoring the health of Maryland’s waterways.
On behalf of the Executive Council, Governor O’Malley also announced an agreement to contract with the National Academy of Sciences to conduct an independent evaluation of each State’s track record in implementing its milestone plan.
“This is a major step forward in enhancing the accountability of the Bay program and we fully expect it will be a permanent fixture,” said Governor O’Malley.
The Governor commended the action of President Barack Obama and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, for their swift work in elevating the federal government’s commitment to restoring the nationally treasured estuary.
Governor O’Malley also publicly thanked Virginia Governor Tim Kaine for his extraordinary partnership. Over the past two years, the two Governors have worked together at an unprecedented level to protect and restore the states’ shared resources, including adopting conservation measures to rebuild the Bay’s blue crab population and reaching a preferred alternative for native oyster restoration.
This spring Maryland has reported significant progress for Bay resources and programming. The blue crab population is beginning to rebound Bay-wide, a direct result of last summer’s conservation measures. Bay grass acreage is up 20 percent in the State from a year ago and numerous water quality stations are showing reduced nitrogen pollution. Also, after an 18-month stalemate under the previous administration, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack recently approved much needed changes to Maryland’s Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, increasing incentives to encourage farmers to enroll.
The Chesapeake Bay Program is a regional partnership that has coordinated and conducted the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay since 1983. Partners include the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, representing the federal government; the U.S. Department of Agriculture; the states of Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia; the District of Columbia; the Chesapeake Bay Commission, a tri-state legislative body; and advisory groups of citizens, scientists and local government officials.