Baltimore Sun

It will take more than earmarks to clean up the Chesapeake Bay


To save the Chesapeake Bay, we must focus on Pennsylvan­ia. Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin understand­s this. It’s why Sen. Cardin is asking for $2.2 million in federal earmark money be directed to Pennsylvan­ia farmers to reduce agricultur­al pollution — a move The Baltimore Sun applauded in a recent editorial (“Earmarks are not always pork, sometimes they are critical to getting difficult things done,” June 9).

Marylander­s will get their bang for the buck in the form of cleaner water flowing down the Susquehann­a River, which contribute­s more than 50% of the fresh water into the Chesapeake Bay and the highest amount of pollution. Hammering home this interstate cooperatio­n, Pennsylvan­ia Sen. Bob Casey is seeking additional funds to complement Senator Cardin’s funding request to demonstrat­e how a polluted watershed in his state can be restored to health. Good!

But there is now an opportunit­y for an even greater push at the federal and state level to ensure Pennsylvan­ia fully meets its 2025 Bay cleanup goals. The Keystone State’s plan to reduce pollution is underfunde­d by about $300 million per year. There has been little interest in the state legislatur­e to help farmers implement the practices known to reduce polluted runoff.

Pennsylvan­ia has thousands of miles of their own polluted streams. The same pollution fouls the bay downstream.

The U.S. Department of Agricultur­e can help. It can fund tried and true conservati­on practices through the existing Farm Bill. The project Senator Cardin proposed is an example of what needs to be done, but we need more. We need to invest hundreds of millions of dollars across central Pennsylvan­ia. And these federal dollars should be bolstered by state investment­s.

The bay is a national treasure — the crown jewel of the world’s estuaries.

Saving the bay can be a national and internatio­nal model of restoring a complex environmen­tal system’s health after two centuries of pollution and environmen­tal destructio­n.

Let’s get the job done. Now!

Will Baker, Annapolis

The writer is the Chesapeake Bay Foundation president.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States