- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 20, 2006

ANNAPOLIS (AP) — Offering what it described as a blueprint for the next governor, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation said that Maryland must limit growth, help farmers cut pollution and manage storm runoff to improve the Bay’s health.

Mindful of the general election in November, foundation officials made the recommendations Tuesday.

“The leaders we elect can make significant progress, or they can preside over a failed effort to save the Bay,” Chesapeake Bay Foundation President William C. Baker said.

The group urged the state to establish regional planning authorities that would decide on proposed developments.

“Decisions are made locally, and sometimes that’s appropriate, but when we look at large mega-developments, the regional impacts cannot be disputed,” said Kim Coble, the foundation’s Maryland executive director.

The foundation has been protesting the Blackwater project, a plan to turn 1,000 acres of farmland and wetlands near a wildlife refuge into a 2,700-home resort community.

The biggest challenge to cleaning up the Bay is funding, Miss Coble said.

The foundation wants a dedicated fund to finance its proposals, suggesting that millions of dollars could be raised by increasing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge toll by a dollar or by charging a few extra dollars for landfill tipping fees.

The foundation has praised Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican seeking re-election, for helping to push through the “flush tax,” which is raising money to upgrade sewage treatment.

And last year, it sued the federal Environmental Protection Agency for failing to place limits on how much sewage can be discharged into the Bay.

Mr. Ehrlich will face Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley, the Democratic nominee for governor, in November’s gubernatorial election.

William Matuszeski, former head of the federal-state Chesapeake Bay Program, said all the foundation’s proposals are good ideas, but the most important one is the dedicated funding source.

Without the money, he said, Maryland’s leaders will be able to accomplish very little.

“We know what has to be done. We know the most cost-effective way to do it,” Mr. Matuszeski said. “What we don’t have is the money.”

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