by Alicia Pimental
November 30, 2009
As part of a draft strategy to restore and protect the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers, federal agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security, Interior and Transportation will accelerate Bay cleanup efforts by meeting two-year milestones that lead to all activities needed to restore the Bay and its rivers being in place no later than 2025.
The draft strategy, part of the Chesapeake Bay Executive Order that President Obama signed in May, contains a comprehensive suite of federal initiatives to address the challenges facing the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed.
“This is the broadest and most publicly accountable cleanup effort ever seen on the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “It’s time for a new era of decisive federal leadership, and new partnerships with state government, nonprofits, the private sector and residents who have all been working to create a cleaner Bay.”
Collectively, the initiatives support three actions:
- To restore clean water, the EPA will create a framework for performance and accountability to guide federal and state pollution control programs, and expand regulatory tools to reduce pollution from Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations and urban and suburban runoff. Additionally, the Department of Agriculture will target voluntary conservation incentives in high-priority areas, while other agencies will work to better manage stormwater on federal land and reduce polluted runoff from roads and highways.
- A number of federal agencies will conserve treasured places and protect fish, wildlife and their habitats. The Department of the Interior will develop a Chesapeake Treasured Landscapes Initiative to support state and local land conservation, while NOAA and the Army Corps of Engineers will lead a revitalized effort to establish oyster reef sanctuaries.
- NOAA and the U.S. Geological Survey are leading the development of a federal strategy for adapting to climate change in the Bay region. Affects of climate change may include rising sea levels, stronger storms, and warmer water and air temperatures.
To accomplish these actions, federal agencies will work closely with the six Bay watershed states and the District of Columbia.
Another important component of the draft strategy is empowering local restoration efforts. Federal agencies will expand technical assistance and resources, and support development of innovative technologies and economic markets for ecosystem services.
Federal agencies have also developed a suite of accountability and transparency measures led by ChesapeakeStat, a publicly accessible online tool that will identify restoration projects, funding and progress.
The draft strategy also calls for an annual plan for spending; reporting on environmental health and restoration progress; and an independent evaluation of federal efforts.
The public is encouraged to provide feedback on the draft strategy during the public comment period, which runs from now to Jan. 8, 2010. The draft strategy will evolve significantly through public comments, state consultations and agency revisions before the final strategy is published in May 2010.
Download the entire draft strategy or the executive summary at the Chesapeake Bay Executive Order website.