HARRISBURG – Gov. Tom Corbett recently attended the Chesapeake Bay Program Executive Council Meeting in Richmond, Va., where he spoke about Pennsylvania’s continuing efforts to improve the bay’s health.
“The Chesapeake Bay is a national treasure, and we are working hard with our neighboring states and federal partners to restore the bay to its previous pristine condition,” Corbett said. “By encouraging innovative approaches, developing common-sense guidelines and allowing individuals to demonstrate leadership, we’ve been very effective in meeting our goals.”
He met with fellow members of the council, Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland, Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia, Pennsylvania State Sen. Michael Brubaker, District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson.
Corbett updated the council on Pennsylvania’s leadership in reducing phosphate, nitrogen and sediment discharges into the Chesapeake Bay watershed and on implementing a nutrient credit trading program. Pennsylvania is the first state to develop such a program, where individuals, companies and organizations use a market-based approach to reduce pollution to the bay.
Along with other states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, Pennsylvania is required to develop a program to ensure the state stays below federally allocated daily limits of sulfate and phosphorus loads to the watershed. Such nutrients contribute to poor water quality and algal bloom in the bay, creating low-oxygen dead zones and severely impacting the estuary’s health.
“We have planted thousands of miles of forest buffer zones to prevent run-off, and we are working with farmers, golf courses, wastewater treatment plants and other contributors to improve standards, practices and technology,” Corbett said.
Pennsylvania has developed the nation’s largest conservation resource enhancement program, using a targeted approach encouraging and enforcing best management practices along stream-edge areas. The state’s agricultural sector has made great strides, achieving 80 percent of all nitrogen load reductions in the state and 55 percent of all such reductions across the watershed.
The council, which meets annually, discussed interstate and federal approaches and partnerships needed to improve the bay.