Our Next Governor
If you live in Virginia, you no doubt know the Commonwealth will hold elections November 5 to select a new governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and House of Delegates.
CBF's Virginia Executive Director
The candidates are in full campaign mode, of course. While the Chesapeake Bay Foundation does not engage in electoral campaigns or support or oppose candidates and political parties because of our nonprofit status, we have launched a candidate education initiative in Virginia. It's aimed at informing the candidates about the Bay, how Virginians feel about Bay restoration, and what the next governor can do over the next four years to keep Bay cleanup moving forward in Virginia.
As a part of the effort, in July CBF sponsored bipartisan polling of Virginia voters and found overwhelming majorities—nine out of ten—support Virginia's plan to restore the Bay and want the next governor to continue implementing the plan, often called the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint.
Next, we identified the five critical actions that the next governor should take to keep Virginia's Bay cleanup moving forward. The new governor, whoever he may be, will have a heightened responsibility and an extraordinary opportunity to restore the Bay's ecology and economy. That's because, after decades of hard work but missed restoration deadlines and commitments, Virginia and the other Bay partners established strict pollution targets and deadlines and agreed to accomplish 60 percent of the work by 2017.
Thus, the next governor faces a four-year deadline for Virginia to achieve 60 percent of its Bay restoration commitments. Here are the five critical actions he must take to get there:
- Reduce farm runoff pollution: Virginia must fully fund and effectively manage the state's conservation cost-share program to help farmers reduce runoff and meet pollution reduction commitments. Should Virginia fail to achieve its specific commitments for reducing farm runoff, the state must proceed with its plan to mandate certain best practices.
- Help localities reduce urban runoff pollution: Virginia should establish a dedicated matching grant fund to help cities and towns reduce runoff pollution from streets, parking lots, and buildings. The grants should incentivize innovative and cost-effective practices, require localities to meet their five-year runoff reduction requirements, and foster job creation.
- Boost oysters and the oyster fishery: Virginia should commit to fully restoring oysters in three Virginia rivers and to sustainably growing the state's oyster harvest to 500,000 bushels a year using science-based management and robust enforcement.
- Restore menhaden: Atlantic menhaden numbers have plummeted to record lows. In four years, Virginia must achieve the population target currently established by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.
- Ensure today's students, Virginia's next generation of leaders, are environmentally literate: The next governor should establish a commission dedicated to ensuring all Virginia students graduate environmentally literate and prepared to address the complex environmental challenges they will face as future citizens, parents, voters, and leaders.
We have shared the poll results and five critical actions with all Virginia candidates, but we need you to do so as well. Please visit our website to urge the gubernatorial candidates to take action for the Bay!
Virginia Executive Director
Chesapeake Bay Foundation