Friday, November 21, 2008

The leaders of Maryland, Virginia and the District said Thursday that they will ask Barack Obama when he officially becomes president for federal assistance in cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay, after years of failing to meet goals and deadlines.

“We are going to approach the new president by Inauguration Day with a precise, targeted plan that we hope the federal government will assist in partnership with states and localities in Bay restoration areas,” said Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, a Democrat.

The District joined the two states and Pennsylvania in 1983 to create the Chesapeake Executive Committee with the goal of finding new strategies for cleaning up the Bay.

Members announced four years ago that they planned to restore the Bay to health by 2010, then said last year that goal would not be met.

The Bay, which was once one of the most productive estuaries on Earth, is now deteriorating because pollution and climate change.

Mr. Kaine, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty said Thursday that they will set short-term goals to ensure the maximum amount of progress in cleaning up the Bay.

Mr. Kaine said the deadlines will keep everyone focused on the environment. The committee also will enlist independent scientists to track the cleanup process.

“It’s now our moral imperative to try a new course for our Bay by restoring it to leave it in a much better condition for our children and our children’s children,” said Mr. O’Malley, a Democrat.

The leaders also committed themselves to promoting the production of biofuels that do not rely on food crops but can be grown throughout the Bay as the restoration process moves forward, Mr. Kaine said.

Mr. Fenty, a Democrat, said he would work aggressively to make sure the outflow from the Anacostia River, which flows into the Bay, is clean.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation - a privately funded nonprofit dedicated to protecting and restoring the Bay - has called the river the D.C. area’s “greatest source of toxic pollution” to the Bay.

“We have a ton of goals, most importantly to protect the Chesapeake Bay watershed, which everyone knows … is a tremendous environment for economic, recreational and historic value,” Mr. Fenty said. “Not just to the three states we represent or just to the region, but to the entire country.”

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