From the Desk of Alan Girard Summer 2015

Historic Win for Clean Water Brings Hope to the Shore  

Maryland's Eastern Shore Director Alan Girard. Photo by Nikki Davis.
CBF's Eastern Shore of Maryland Director Alan Girard. Photo by Nikki Davis.

It's official. A federal appeals court earlier this month struck down a case that sought to undermine the science-based, multi-state Bay clean-up plan we call the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint.

The suit brought by the American Farm Bureau Federation and its allies challenged EPA's authority to oversee restoration of the Chesapeake. But the court found the litigants' arguments "unpersuasive," instead affirming the role of government in supporting the efforts of businesses, farmers, and citizens to reduce pollution.

Since 2010, hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested Baywide to upgrade sewage treatment plants, help localities manage pollution from polluted runoff, and assist farmers with controlling agricultural runoff. Scientists are noting smaller dead zones, more underwater grasses, and rebounding oysters as a result.

Now with the appeals court decision there's even greater hope that people will do their fair share to ensure that progress continues.

No one enjoys that sinking feeling when, after making substantial investments in cleaning up local waterways, pollution in upstream states like Pennsylvania is found to be getting worse. The court's ruling doubles down on EPA's authority to make sure that each and every state in the Bay watershed pulls its own weight. As in most any business, accountability for results is a strong motivator for success.

It's a lesson in responsibility that we even teach our own children. My 13-year-old son has a job to do this summer: scrape and paint the outside of the shed in the backyard before school starts in the fall. He's motivated to finish because he wants to buy a car when he gets older. The consequences for not getting the job done? No cash for that hot rod.

Even with the strongest incentives, doing anything new and difficult can be a challenge. For the Bay's restoration, the judges in this month's ruling acknowledge the great sacrifice by many that's required to meet pollution limits. But these sacrifices are a reasonable trade-off given the great value a restored Bay provides. The work is hard but the benefits far outweigh the costs.

"Congress made a judgment in the Clean Water Act that the states and EPA could, working together, best allocate the benefits and burdens of lowering pollution," the court said. That's good news for the Shore and other regions around Maryland where people have been frustrated by the lack of progress in other states. A cooperative approach can make the job easier and ensure it gets done in a timely way. And the effort invested will yield healthy fish habitat, a vibrant economy, and clean water for future generations all to enjoy.

The Shore can breathe easier now that the multi-state Bay clean-up partnership is reaffirmed. As for a new coat of paint on that shed, restoring the Chesapeake might be an easier job to do.

—Alan Girard
Eastern Shore of Maryland Director
Chesapeake Bay Foundation


Let's use this momentum to make sure our leaders are doing everything in their power to ensure Chesapeake restoration. Click here to take action.


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