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Bay Blog: Lisa Jackson


Chesapeake Executive Council discusses Bay restoration progress, re-elects Lisa Jackson as chair at annual meeting

The Chesapeake Executive Council announced progress toward Chesapeake Bay cleanup milestones, discussed plans for meeting requirements of the Bay “pollution diet,” and encouraged individual Bay stewardship at its annual meeting on July 11 in Richmond, Virginia.

Executive Council members in attendance included U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator and Executive Council Chair Lisa Jackson; Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell; Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley; Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett; District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray; Chesapeake Bay Commission Chair Sen. Michael Brubaker; U.S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan; and representatives from Delaware, New York and West Virginia.

Chesapeake Bay Program partners are currently working toward short-term pollution reduction goals called milestones. All seven Bay jurisdictions are currently on-track or ahead of schedule in meeting these milestones. The deadline for the current set of two-year milestones is December 31, 2011.

Executive Council members also talked about their watershed implementation plans (WIPs), local restoration plans that show how each jurisdiction will meet pollution reductions required by the Chesapeake Bay TMDL. The jurisdictions are now in the second phase of developing their draft plans, which are due at the end of 2011.

Additionally, the Bay Program’s three advisory committees – Citizens, Local Government, and Scientific and Technical – presented to the Executive Council about Bay restoration activities from their unique areas of expertise.

The 2011 Executive Council meeting was held at the Maymont Foundation, located on the James River in Richmond. Executive Council members spent part of the afternoon touring exhibits on topics such as native plants, Bay-friendly lawn care, and soil health and testing. The location was chosen to highlight the meeting’s “Get Grounded in Tour Watershed” theme, which stresses the importance of connecting people with their local waterways. Through its Nature Center and educational programs, Maymont offers local residents a place to learn about and connect with Virginia’s environment.

"The focus of our discussions today was on empowering every citizen in the Bay watershed to be part of restoring these important waters,” said Jackson. “The actions of federal, state and local governments are just the beginning of revitalizing the Bay. We are also counting on the partnership of millions of people who live in this region to join in protecting the waters that support their health, their environment and their economy."

The Executive Council sets the policy agenda for the Chesapeake Bay Program. Visit our Chesapeake Executive Council page for more information.


Meet Jeff Corbin, the new "Chesapeake Bay Czar"

EPA Senior Adviser for the Chesapeake Bay and Anacostia River Jeff Corbin discusses the challenge and importance of Chesapeake Bay restoration in our latest feature.

I have recently been given the opportunity by U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to serve as her senior advisor for the Chesapeake Bay and Anacostia River. I am both honored and humbled to serve in this role (as well as over-whelmed and sleep-deprived).

On my second day in my new position, I found myself in a late evening meeting with the EPA deputy administrator discussing urgent Chesapeake Bay issues. On his conference table was a report he recently received and on the cover was an aerial view of the Hoover Dam. If you’ve never seen what the Hoover Dam looks like from above, I can assure you that it is awe-inspiring. To think that we humans could build such a massive structure, divert enormous natural forces, and do it in the midst of the Great Depression, got me thinking - if we can build a Hoover Dam, surely we can restore the Chesapeake Bay and rivers that feed it.

I do not make that conclusive statement lightly. Full restoration of all of the Bay region’s waters will not be easy, cheap, or without stumbles and obstacles. So then why do I say we can do it? Because not a single person I have encountered in my 14 years of restoration work has said we shouldn’t restore the health of the Bay and its rivers. And I mean not a single person. Not an elected official, not a wastewater treatment facility operator, not a homebuilder, not a farmer – no one. And that gives me great hope.

This is not to say that various interests don’t have concerns about the timeframe for restoration, or funding concerns, or how the pollution reduction responsibilities were divvied up. But they all acknowledge that we need to figure out a way to get the job done.  And we will. Through the states’ newly developed watershed implementation plans and the federal government’s recent Chesapeake Bay Executive Order Action Plan, we have the vision and the strategies to see this restoration effort through.

Interestingly, many of the people who sent me congratulatory notes after hearing about my new position also expressed their condolences. I realize that they did so jokingly, but it really made me wonder why so many people would make that comment.

Is it because the Bay partnership’s restoration efforts are under scrutiny? If so, why would we discourage scrutiny? We are committed to restoring a national treasure and investing significant federal, state and local revenues to do so – we should be scrutinized. But after the scrutiny, let’s come together and get on with our restoration work.

Is it because of the sizable projected costs? We’ve always known those costs existed – they’ve been spelled out in detail in the various “tributary strategies” developed a decade ago by the Bay jurisdictions, in reports prepared by the Chesapeake Bay Commission and the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Blue Ribbon Finance Panel in 2004. If we are now questioning whether the costs are sustainable, then were we ever really “committed” to meeting our previous “commitments?”

Or is it because of the sometimes seemingly insurmountable political divide that exists in Washington? If that is the case, I remind everyone of the following quote: “Preservation of our environment is not a liberal or conservative challenge, it's common sense.” Who said that? President Reagan, in his 1984 State of the Union Address. He then announced a sizable budget increase for the U.S. EPA – specifically for the purpose of restoring the Chesapeake Bay.

I ask that we stop thinking of the expenses of a clean Bay as “costs” and start treating them for what they really are: investments. Investments in clean water that will generate considerable economic gain for the region.

I ask that we redouble our efforts and commitment to do what it will take to fully restore the health of our rivers. Clean the rivers and the Bay will take care of itself. I am referring to the collective “we” – EPA and other federal agencies, Bay region states, districts and local governments, numerous stakeholder interests, and millions of Bay watershed residents.

In 1961, President Kennedy didn't say to the American people, "Let's try really hard to put a man on the moon"; rather, he committed the nation to do so by the end of the decade. If you go back and read the various Bay Agreements that have been adopted since 1983, the word “commitment” is used extensively.

So if we are serious when we say that the Chesapeake Bay is a “national treasure,” and we wish to honor our past commitments, then let’s gather the strength, will and resources to achieve the Bay equivalent of landing a man on the moon – or maybe something easier, like building a Hoover Dam.

We can do this – and the world is watching us.

Jeff Corbin's avatar
About Jeff Corbin - Jeff is Senior Advisor to the EPA Administrator for the Chesapeake Bay and Anacostia River. In that role Jeff helps coordinate all aspects of the agency’s Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts and serves as the chief liaison among the Office of the Administrator; federal, state and local government partners; and community and nonprofit stakeholders.


Jeff Corbin appointed EPA senior adviser on Chesapeake Bay

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has appointed Jeff Corbin as her senior adviser on Chesapeake Bay restoration.

In his new position, Corbin will help coordinate all aspects of the EPA’s strategic Chesapeake Bay initiatives. He will also serve as the lead liaison among the EPA, other federal and state government agencies, and various stakeholders throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Corbin is currently a senior adviser to EPA Region 3 Administrator Shawn Garvin, with whom he works closely on Chesapeake Bay issues.

Prior to joining the EPA in 2010, Corbin served as assistant secretary of natural resources in Virginia. During that time he worked closely with the Chesapeake Bay Program when then-Gov. Tim Kaine was chair of the Chesapeake Executive Council.

Corbin also spent nearly 10 years with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, ultimately serving as its Virginia deputy director and senior scientist.

Administrator Jackson’s former senior adviser on the Chesapeake Bay, Chuck Fox, left the position at the end of last year.


EPA Administrator Voted Chair of Chesapeake Executive Council

January 2010 -- The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been named chair of the Chesapeake Executive Council, assuming responsibility for the Chesapeake Bay Program’s policy-setting committee from outgoing Virginia Governor Timothy Kaine.

During a meeting of the Executive Council in Arlington, Va., EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson promised to continue the Bay Program’s positive momentum and lead the regional partnership into a new era of progress and accountability as Executive Council chair.

“It’s an honor to chair the Executive Council at this moment of unprecedented opportunity,” Jackson said. “Chesapeake Bay communities have spent years calling for cleaner water and a healthier environment. We have a renewed opportunity to show them real progress.”

Administrator Jackson noted that 2009 was a historic year for the Chesapeake Bay restoration effort, with the states’ commitment to two-year milestones for implementing pollution controls and President Obama’s Executive Order on the Chesapeake Bay.

2010, however, could be a turning point for the Chesapeake Bay through the completion of the Chesapeake Bay TMDL and a new restoration strategy required by the Executive Order. The six states and District of Columbia will also receive $11.2 million in federal funding – more than double 2009 levels – to increase permitting, enforcement and other regulatory activities.

“Success in restoring the Chesapeake Bay and local waterways hinges on the collective effort of all stakeholders, and this partnership provides a vehicle for federal and state governments to collaborate and ultimately reach our common goals,” said Jackson, who also serves as chair of the Federal Leadership Committee established by the Executive Order.

Governor Kaine held the position of Executive Council chair since November 2008. His gubernatorial term ends this month.

"Last year, we charted a new, more effective course for improving the health of Bay waters by establishing critical two-year milestones that will serve as the foundation for future success," said Kaine. "I am pleased with what we've been able to accomplish by working together, and I have no doubt that Administrator Jackson will build on our progress in 2010."

As Governor of Virginia, Kaine permanently conserved nearly 400,000 acres of land, worked with Maryland to better protect the blue crab population, strengthened stormwater regulations, and launched climate change planning.

As chair of Executive Council, Kaine led the effort to create two-year milestones, which represented a fundamental shift in goal-setting, and worked with the White House on the Executive Order, the most significant federal action on the Chesapeake Bay in 25 years.

(Learn more about Governor Kaine’s environmental accomplishments.)

“The health of our Chesapeake Bay is critical to the environmental and economic future of the states that surround it and the people who enjoy it, and these regional partnerships have been invaluable to these efforts,” said Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, past chair of the Executive Council. “Adding to these efforts the passion, partnership and authority of EPA Administrator Jackson will guide us through a new era of progress and accountability.”

“The Chesapeake Bay Commission looks forward to continuing the strong partnership we have established with the Bay Program and working closely with Administrator Jackson in finding new and innovative ways to clean our Bay and preserve this national treasure for generations yet to come,” said Chesapeake Bay Commission Chair, Virginia Delegate John A. Cosgrove.

Video from the Executive Council meeting

Virginia Governor and outgoing Chesapeake Executive Council Chair Timothy Kaine

Maryland Governor and past Chesapeake Executive Council Chair Martin O'Malley

Chesapeake Bay Commission Chair and Virginia Delegate John Cosgrove

EPA Administrator and incoming Chesapeake Executive Council Chair Lisa Jackson

Media Question and Answer Session (two parts)

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