This op-ed originally ran in the Bay Journal. Reprinted with permission.
Science is hard, environmental policy is complicated and regulatory science can seem endlessly confounding.
It does not have to be. Earlier this year, the Chesapeake Bay partners stepped into a time-worn trap, heeding calls from overly cautious states to wait for more refined scientific modeling of climate change impacts before taking action to eliminate pollution in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Having punted action until 2021 at the earliest, the Bay Partnership needs policies to prevent further delay. An innovative policy tool called "stopping rules" could be the answer.
Chesapeake Bay Program scientists have determined that Bay states need to eliminate an additional 9 million pounds of nitrogen pollution and 500,000 pounds of phosphorus to offset the impacts of climate change and ensure that dissolved oxygen standards can be met in the Bay by 2025.
To be clear, the stakes are much greater than dissolved oxygen levels in the middle of the Bay. Local streams and rivers throughout the watershed face increasing loads of inorganic nitrogen from climate change, which may be responsible for more frequent and intense algae blooms.
Higher water temperatures are likely to worsen …