Chesapeake Bay Executive Council Meeting
December 5, 2007
I want to thank all of you for coming today and for supporting this partnership of our collective and our individual efforts. Next year marks the 25th anniversary of this partnership to restore the natural treasure that is the Chesapeake Bay through a program that’s become an international model.
I want to introduce our partners in this critical effort who are here today and have been here all day. The Governors and the Mayor and I were saying, what a wonderful thing it is to be able to focus on something for more than 15 minutes. It’s really been an enjoyable time that we’ve spent talking about and addressing a very critical issue.
To my left is Virginia’s Governor, Tim Kaine. To my right is Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell. To Governor Kaine’s left is the Mayor of the District of Columbia, Washington, DC, Mayor Adrian Fenty. Representing EPA, Administrator Steve Johnson, who was here earlier today and with us through the morning sessions but had to leave for another commitment, is Assistant Administrator Ben Grumbles.
Also, we have Maryland’s own Delegate, Jim Hubbard, who is the Chesapeake Bay Commission Chair, to Governor Rendell’s right. And representing Governor Ruth Ann Minner is Delaware’s Secretary of Agriculture Michael Scuse. And representing Governor Joe Manchin, who is the Deputy Director of West Virginia’s Department of Environmental Protection, is William Brennan. And the USDA Undersecretary for Natural Resources and the Environment is Mark Rey, who is with us. Mark, thank you.
We are at a very important crossroads in the history of the Bay, and as we acknowledge the challenges that are still ahead of us, it’s also an important time to declare this, 2008, a year of revival and a year of recommitment, because there are many goals that have yet to be realized, and they will only be realized if we continue to apply ourselves, to recommit ourselves and to revive this Chesapeake Bay Program and move forward towards the goals that we know we must achieve.
Failure is not an option. We have to move forward. This morning, we received reports from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and the Chesapeake Bay Commission. These reports addressed current and future estimates as to the overall health of the Bay and the key challenges before us and recommended actions to accelerate meeting our 2010 nutrient reduction goals. And we want to thank all of the presenters for framing many of these issues, and some of the announcements we’ll be making shortly are in response to those reports and the good work of so many.
As a result of our just concluded meeting across the street, we have agreed to collectively and individually undertake certain actions, and each of us will address those. But speaking for the council as a whole, we wanted to -- I want to read a statement that we’ve kind of hashed out in anticipation of this meeting and refined across the street. And it is this.
“We are at a key crossroads in our Bay restoration efforts. With the alignment of political leadership, public will, and good science, we have the moral imperative to turn back the decline in the Bay’s health that has been decades in the making. We have made significant progress in many areas over the last 25 years; however, we must also acknowledge that based on the current pace we will not meet our 2010 nutrient and sediment reduction goals. But today we have pledged to accelerate our efforts and to have any and all programs and policies in place by the end of calendar year 2010 to meet our nutrient and sediment reduction goals. We also pledge our best efforts to continue to seek any necessary additional funding consistent with overall fiscal and economic conditions.”
While there are many who look at the trends and see reason for pessimism, we see a lot of things that have been done that actually work that just need to be done at a larger scale and at a more accelerated pace. So, we did a couple of things across the street as well that I mentioned before I throw to other speakers. One of them was that we signed the Forest Conservation Implementation Plan. Forests are the least polluting major land use, making conservation a central strategy for meeting our water quality goals. And the Bay Watershed is losing as much as a hundred acres of forest cover per day, and the plan establishes state-specific forest conservation goals and strategies.
We also each agreed to sort of champion sort of major issues, major issue areas. And on behalf of Maryland, we have agreed to champion the notion of greater accountability, an issue we heard all morning. Greater accountability, greater transparency, and greater local engagement. If we are actually going to clean up the Bay, we have to clean up all of the various tributaries, rivers, streams, and creeks that are part of this -- of this watershed. And that can’t be done unless we engage mayors, unless we engage town councils, unless we engage local government and do it in a way that’s open and honest and where we’re all referencing the same map.
That’s what we have been endeavoring to do here in Maryland with our program of BayStat, and so we will be championing that tool and also taking advantage as part of that, taking advantage of GIS technology so that as John Smith realized how important having one map was, we also realize that for our efforts to have synergy and to be targeted and to be orchestrated and coordinated, we need to be working off of the same map with our local partners.
Another issue that we hope to champion with our partners is accelerating the development of technology, technology that will help us close the gap and accelerate our progress. And we have talked just preliminarily here today about creating an incentive fund, not necessarily a venture capital fund, but a sort of reward fund so that people that are out there developing clean environment technologies that can be directly applied to the Bay will have an incentive to do so and to chase.