Nov 10, 2009

Federal Agencies to Meet Two-Year Milestones for All Chesapeake Bay Restoration Activities

Draft strategy focused on federal action and accountability

Expanded action and increased accountability by the federal government are the focus of a draft strategy for restoring and protecting the Chesapeake Bay required by President Obama's executive order. To accelerate efforts and track progress, federal agencies are committing to meet milestones every two years, leading to all activities needed to restore the Chesapeake Bay and watershed being in place no later than 2025.

The draft strategy contains a comprehensive package of federal initiatives to restore clean water, conserve treasured places, protect fish and wildlife and adapt to the impacts of climate change. These objectives will be accomplished by empowering local efforts, making decisions based on science and forging a new era of federal leadership and accountability. Close collaboration of efforts with the six states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and the District of Columbia also will be critical.

"President Obama has declared that the Chesapeake Bay is a national treasure and committed to a robust cleanup effort,” said EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “Setting two-year benchmarks for progress will ensure that our actions are getting the results the President and the public expect. This is the broadest and most publicly accountable cleanup effort ever seen on the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed. It's time for a new era of decisive federal leadership and new partnerships with state government, non-profits, the private sector and residents who have all been working to create a cleaner bay."

Public comment on the draft strategy is important to the federal agencies and will shape the final strategy, according to a release issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The formal public comment period is from Nov. 9, 2009, to Jan. 8, 2010. The draft strategy will evolve significantly through public comments, state consultations and agency revisions before the final strategy is published in May 2010.

To restore clean water, the EPA will create a framework for performance and accountability to guide federal and state pollution control programs and expand regulatory tools to reduce pollution from concentrated animal feeding operations and urban and suburban runoff. The USDA will target voluntary conservation incentives at high priority areas. New emphasis is also placed on improving storm water management on federal land and reducing polluted runoff from transportation infrastructure.

"Maintaining healthy, sustainable farms and forests is an essential component to protecting and restoring the Chesapeake Bay," said Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. "Our focus is on increasing economic viability, strengthening markets for local foods, improving water quality and protecting the natural landscape."