New CPR Report says State Plans for Chesapeake Bay Restoration Not Strong Enough to Get the Job Done

by Ben Somberg

January 25, 2011

Momentum for Chesapeake Bay restoration has advanced significantly in the past two years, shaped by the combination of President Obama’s Chesapeake Bay Protection and Restoration Executive Order and the EPA’s Bay-wide Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) process. These federal initiatives, taken in partnership with the Bay states, required the Bay states and the District of Columbia to submit Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs) to demonstrate how they will meet the pollution targets in the applicable TMDLs.

In August, CPR sent the Chesapeake Bay watershed jurisdictions (Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia) metrics by which our panel of water quality experts would judge the strength of the plans; we also submitted comments to the states in November on their draft plans. The states’ final plans were submitted to EPA in November and December.

The state plans fail to provide a specific roadmap for restoring the Bay, CPR says today in Missing the Mark in the Chesapeake Bay: A Report Card for the Phase I Watershed Implementation Plans (press release). The report was written by CPR Member Scholars William Andreen, Robert Glicksman, and Rena Steinzor, and CPR executive director Shana Jones and policy analyst Yee Huang.

Our report found that the state plans all underperformed, to varying degrees, on the two primary areas for evaluation: transparency of information and strength of program design. While improvements from the drafts, the final plans were light on providing specific commitments for actions needed to achieve the required pollution reductions, and generally did not pledge dedicated funding for the proposed programs. The plans generally did not establish a baseline for existing programs’ effectiveness to allow the public to monitor future performance in implementing the pollution reduction controls.

Here's the report, along with the complete detailed assessment for each of the jurisdictions: Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

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