EPA official’s comments stir fear, confusion over future of Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts

Jan 9, 2020


Environmentalists and politicians worry Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts could be weakened, if not doomed, days after the federal official overseeing that work called an agreement to reduce water pollution an “aspirational” goal and not rules to be enforced.

They say the federal Environmental Protection Agency, through its Annapolis-based Chesapeake Bay Program office, plays a central role in guiding water quality improvements across the big estuary’s watershed. Under the EPA’s supervision, six states and the District of Columbia in 2010 agreed to significantly reduce pollution by 2025; the EPA pledged it would step in if they didn’t meet the goals.

So it stirred significant concern when Dana Aunkst, the bay program’s director, suggested Friday that’s no longer the case.

At a meeting of the Chesapeake Bay Commission, a partnership between Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania, Aunkst called the so-called pollution “diet” codified a decade ago “an informational document” that is not “enforceable."

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