The long-running effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay to health has reached a critical juncture. The current restoration effort known as the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for the Bay established 2017 as the first of two key deadlines. By then, the state and federal partners were to have in place 60 percent of all projects, practices, and policies needed to reach final pollution reduction targets by 2025.
Toxic Runoff from Maryland Industry: Inadequate Stormwater Discharge Protections Threaten Marylanders’ Health and the Environment, a joint publication from CPR and the Environmental Integrity Project, by CPR's Rena Steinzor, David Flores and Evan Isaacson, and EIP's Sylvia Lam and Courtney Bernhardt, November 2017.
The Chesapeake Bay is an ecosystem in peril. Pollutants from animal farms, urban and suburban development, sewage treatment plants, and coal-fired power plants are deposited into the Bay causing algae blooms that consume the dissolved oxygen and cause dead zones that cannot support aquatic life. To restore this environmental treasure and economic engine, all contributors to the Bay’s pollution problems must be held accountable. CPR works to ensure that state governments and the EPA are being vigilant, transparent, and equitable in holding polluters responsible for their share of the pollution.
In April 2019, each of the Chesapeake Bay states submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the public drafts of their Phase III Watershed Implementation Plans, encompassing their plans for meeting the 2025 pollution reduction targets. CPR's Evan Isaacson evaluates the plans put forward by the three states responsible for the bulk of the pollution in the Bay, Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania. A companion analysis by David Flores examines whether and how well the plans account for the impacts of climate change.
The James River watershed in Virginia is particularly vulnerable to the consequences of climate change. It faces higher than average sea-level rise, intensifying precipitation rates, and increased hurricane risks. As major storms cause serious and potentially toxic flooding in the James River watershed – and elsewhere in the United States – residents are reminded that the industries surrounding them are not doing enough to plan and adapt to our changing world.
CPR joined 35 other members of the Choose Clean Water Coalition in comments to EPA on the 2019 Watershed Implementation Plans submitted by the Chesapeake Bay states, noting that the plans "do not ... provide the necessary assurances and accountability." May 24, 2019.
CPR joined other members of the Choose Clean Water Coalition in a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency, taking it to task for failing to ensure that the Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs) submitted by the Chesapeake Bay states were adequate to achieve the 2025 pollution-reduction goals. August 5, 2019.
Joint letter from the Chesapeake Legal Alliance, Center for Progressive Reform, Environmental Integrity Project, and Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Inc., to the Members of the Maryland General Assembly in support of the Environmental Transparency and Accountability Act, March 2, 2020.
Darya Minovi's testimony before the Maryland House of Delegates Committee on Environment and Transportation in support of HB1312, a bill addressing Water Pollution Control, Discharge Permits, and Industrial Poultry Operations, March 4, 2020.
Coastal communities in the United States are largely unprepared for the projected effects of the climate crisis, including more intense storm surges, sea level rise, increased precipitation, and other drivers of coastal and inland flooding. That flooding is damaging enough on its own, but in recent years, chemical spills triggered by extreme weather, such as hurricanes, have become more frequent, exposing nearby communities to toxic chemicals and hazardous waste in the midst of natural disaster. In this web article, CPR's Darya Minovi discusses the danger and offers recommendations.
Over the past two decades, Delmarva agriculture has shifted from traditional, diversified family farming to a more industrialized system of raising animals. Large, powerful companies dictate how animals are raised, processed, and sold and bear no responsibility for the public health impacts and environmental degradation in our local communities. The disastrous consequences have been highlighted, and in some cases exacerbated, by the current COVID-19 crisis. During a May 26, 2020, virtual town hall, regional experts and local community members shared the latest science, regulatory and policy actions, community perspectives, and possible solutions. The town hall was presented free with support from the Town Creek Foundation.
Read a fact sheet from CPR, Fair Farms, Sentinels of Eastern Shore Health, and the Sussex Health and Environmental Network prepared for a hearing of the Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee of the U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee. The hearing focused on the environmental justice impacts of COVID-19 on the Delmarva Peninsula.
CPR joined with other members of the Choose Clean Water Coalition in a letter urging the Maryland Department of the Environment to reconsider its proposal to award nutrient credits to the State Highway Administration that it can use toward its pollution reduction requirements under its Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4) permit.
CPR's June 2020 fact sheet describes the threat of toxic floodwaters resulting from more and more severe weather events combined with a concentration of industrial facilities subject to flooding in the Hampton Roads region. Such toxic floodwater events would have a particularly severe impact on low-income and minority communities in the region.
CPR joined with other members of the Chespeake Accountability Project, urging the Maryland Department of the Environment to gather and share information about polluters' alleged inability to comply with permit requirements because of the coronavirus pandemic, and to ensure strong whistleblower protections.
In May 2020, CPR joined with other organizations from the Chesapeake Accountability Project in a letter to Maryland Secretary of the Environment Ben Grumbles urging increased transparency during the pandemic. Having received no response, the group wrote again to urge that all compliance waivers granted/denied & claims of force majeure related to COVID-19 be made public. The letter also reiterates the importance of MDE providing strong and clear notice to permit holders of its expectations during the pandemic.
Dangerous nitrate pollution has contaminated private drinking water wells and public water utilities in several regions across the United States, posing a significant threat to people's health. A new report from CPR indicates that this problem has reached Maryland's Lower Eastern Shore, an agricultural area that's home to hundreds of concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and millions of chickens.
CPR analysts Darya Minovi and David Flores submitted a public comment on Virginia's draft air pollution permit for a proposed natural gas and diesel-burning power plant at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth. Citing CPR's Toxic Floodwaters study of the James River Watershed, the letter explores the risks of harm that the facility and others in the area pose to the low-income and minority fenceline communities already disproportionately burdened by industrial pollution.
CPR led the development of written testimony to the Maryland House Environment and Transportation Committee on HB 1069, a bill to create a private well water safety program in the state. Twenty-three organizations joined CPR in submitting the testimony.
Today, the Assateague Coastal Trust, Center for Progressive Reform, Environmental Integrity Project, and University of Maryland School of Public Health launched a new initiative designed to assess and safeguard drinking water for residents of Maryland's Lower Eastern Shore who rely on private wells.
CPR joined the Environmental Integrity Project, Assateague Coastal Trust, Waterkeepers Chesapeake, and Chesapeake Legal Alliance to provide the Maryland Department of the Environment with information on ammonia pollution monitoring near concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) for poultry. Those CAFOs are often located near and can pollute fenceline communities on Maryland's Eastern Shore.