Today, officials from the EPA released a letter outlining their expectations as the Bay jurisdictions prepare Phase III Watershed Implementation Plans. These plans will outline the programs and practices each jurisdiction will implement to achieve the 2025 pollution-reduction goals.
The Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, implemented in 2010, is unlike past state/federal voluntary agreements. It includes pollution limits, state-specific plans to achieve those limits, two-year milestones to evaluate progress, and consequences for failure. In it, the states also committed to implementation of 60 percent of the practices necessary for Bay restoration by 2017 and finishing the job by 2025.
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) supports the major components of the expectation document, including:
- Confirmation that the partners are committed to the 2025 implementation deadline;
- Continued backstop oversight over Pennsylvania, including identifying actions that EPA could take to ensure accountability; and
- Recommendations that states cost-effectively prioritize resources on practices and areas that yield the greatest pollution reductions.
Following release of the letter, CBF President William C. Baker issued this statement:
“These expectations provide a sound framework for the Bay jurisdictions to develop plans to achieve the 2025 goals. As we have seen in the past, however, the success of the plans will depend on how well they are implemented.
“The EPA letter recognizes what we found in our assessment—the states need to accelerate efforts to reduce polluted runoff from agricultural and urban/suburban areas.
“The letter specifically details where Pennsylvania has fallen short in the past. It outlines actions EPA may take to hold the Commonwealth accountable. Now, Pennsylvania must develop a plan to close the gap and meet its 2025 commitments. If the plan does not, EPA must compel action.”