by Alicia Pimental
December 01, 2007
On Wednesday, December 5, the Chesapeake Executive Council (EC) met at Maryland's historic State House in Annapolis to create history of their own by committing to “champion” specific measures aimed at accelerating Bay cleanup.
The Executive Council, which establishes the policy direction for the restoration and protection of the Bay and its living resources, includes the governors of Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia; the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; the mayor of the District of Columbia; and the chair of the Chesapeake Bay Commission. This year, representatives from Delaware and West Virginia, as well as the U.S. Department of Agriculture, were also in attendance.
The purpose of each state choosing “champion” issues is to focus on those particular issues that are vital to restore the streams, rivers and Bay waters in their individual jurisdictions. The outcomes of the various projects or programs are intended to be models that can be used in other towns, municipalities, counties, cities and states. As each “champion” makes progress, it will report back to the partnership. The partners will be encouraged to consider the individual models and modify them for their respective uses.
The areas of focus for each state were:
- Create a regional venture capital fund to foster innovative technology advancements on water quality improvements.
- Lead the regional effort to seek improvements in Bay Program accountability and governance structure through approaches such as Maryland's BayStat.
- Enhanced delivery of agriculture management practices and assistance, such as targeting conservation dollars to activities and areas with the greatest return on investment for nutrient and sediment pollution reductions.
- Encourage Congress to pass a sound Farm Bill that would provide Bay watershed farmers with needed resources for conservation practices.
- Along with the Chesapeake Bay Commission, sponsor a Biofuels Summit to explore ways to accelerate the use of cellulosic sources for ethanol.
District of Columbia
- Become the watershed model for the “greening” of urban areas. To complement this effort, the District of Columbia entered into an agreement with the EPA to create a next-generation stormwater permit that will significantly reduce polluted runoff through green roofs, expanded areas of urban trees and other green practices.
- Investigate agriculture and forestry gas mitigation options for carbon sequestration sinks, defined as agricultural and forested lands that absorb carbon dioxide (CO²).
- Host a carbon sequestration working session for the watershed states and other Bay program partners in the coming year.
- Will co-champion with Maryland efforts to engage local governments in upstream communities to share experiences and techniques to restore and protect the streams that run into the Bay.
One area of focus that all members of the EC committed to champion was forest conservation. At the meeting, the EC announced a collective goal of preserving 695,000 acres of forestland throughout the entire Bay watershed.