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For Maryland Day, Invest in Citizens Bay Agreement

If it’s right, the EPA needs to hear from us

This week we celebrate Maryland Day.    
    It’s a great thing to live in a state that knows its past and keeps it alive in legend, song, story and opportunity.
    Our feature story, Time Out from the March of Time, guides you to dozens of ways to experience segments of Maryland’s 380-year history, right in the places where history lives on.
    We’re also a state that puts great thought into our future. Smart Growth, renewable energy, restoring the Chesapeake are all on our agenda.
    With such good intentions, detailed in so many plans and agreements, I’d like to think we were getting our future right.
    But every good idea has opposition that calls it bad.
    And every step forward is countered by steps back.
    What’s a person to believe?
    Often, knowing what to believe takes science, analysis and judgment beyond our reach.
    So we take the word of others, forming our beliefs on faith.
    When I make that kind of a leap, I feel safer when I follow link by link along a strong chain of reasoning.
    That’s how I felt reading the Citizens Bay Agreement.
    Even though the Citizens Agreement calls the EPA’s 2014 draft Chesapeake Bay Agreement “fundamentally flawed.”
    That’s a conclusion I’d rather not reach. Now that the EPA has the authority — conferred by the president — to set standards and sanctions for all of us in the Bay watershed, I want us to get it right.
    I was initially willing to consider the bad news of fundamental flaws because of my faith in the integrity and expertise of the environmental leaders making the claim. (Even if they are all men.)
    The executive council making the charge includes former Maryland senators and Bay champions Gerald Winegrad and Bernie Fowler; former governor Parris Glendening; former congressman Wayne Gilchrest; Patuxent Riverkeeper Fred Tutman; Bay scientist Walter Boynton; Bay chronicler Tom Horton; and Bay gadfly Howard Ernst.
    The guys also did their homework, analyzing not only what was in the draft but also what was not. Indeed, all the major problems seem to be omissions.
    “Together with other fatal flaws, the omissions of polluted runoff from farms and stormwater and the failure to even mention the major threat of population growth and sprawling development, sadly makes the current draft a nothingburger,” said Winegrad.
    The Bay Agreement a nothingburger?
    It’s pretty easy to pick holes. We editors do it all the time. The rest of the job is coming up with fixes.
    The Citizens Plan proposed by this executive council and seeking signatures of readers like you and me proposes a 25-step action plan. The steps are grouped in six categories based on the EPA’s alleged omissions: 1. Significantly reduce farm runoff. 2. Control development. 3. ­Protect forests / Plant trees. 4. Upgrade septic systems. 5. Clean air. 6. Improve wastewater treatment plants.
    Will it make as much sense to you as it does to me? You won’t know till you read it: www.bayactionplan.com.
    I hope you’ll add that intellectual investment in our shared future to your celebration of Maryland Day. The Citizens Plan is brief enough to leave you plenty of time to go out and enjoy Maryland Day fun this weekend, when the weather forecast is good. It’s deep enough that it will give you plenty to think about whatever the weather.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher; editor@bayweekly.com

Accelerated Oyster Growth - We need to greatly increase the resident oyster population if we are going to see the Bay recover. The oyster is the cleanser of the Bay. Right now, the oyster population is only 0.3 0f 1% of its historical levels. The population is so low that it can no longer do its job. The longer it takes to get the population up to proper levels, the longer it will take to have the Bay recover. We very likely could find ourselves here 50 years from now trying to figure out how to get the Bay to recover if we don't have an adequate oyster population.