Governor Martin O’Malley Hosts Chesapeake Executive Council Meeting

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Nina Smith, Governor’s Office: 410-533-0363
nina.smith@maryland.gov

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

GOVERNOR MARTIN O’MALLEY HOSTS CHESAPEAKE EXECUTIVE COUNCIL MEETING

Members sign Landmark Chesapeake Watershed Agreement

 

ANNAPOLIS, MD (June 16, 2014) — Governor Martin O’Malley, 2014 chair of the Chesapeake Executive Council, today hosted Bay Program partners in Annapolis for the landmark signing of a new Chesapeake Watershed Agreement.  EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, Delaware Governor Jack Markell, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and Washington, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray were among the program partners who joined Governor O’Malley in committing to a new set of goals that will advance restoration and protection of the Bay, its tributaries and the lands that surround the Chesapeake Bay. Commission Chair Pennsylvania State Representative Ron Miller, and West Virginia Environmental Protection Director Scott Mandirola also participated in today’s meeting.

“Today we celebrate the most inclusive, collaborative, goal-oriented Agreement the Chesapeake Bay Watershed has ever seen,” said Governor Martin O’Malley, Executive Council Chair.  “This Agreement not only addresses our continuing water quality and land use challenges, it also confronts critical emerging issues like environmental literacy, toxic contaminants and climate change.   Perhaps most importantly, it builds upon the strength of our diverse citizenry – including our youngest stewards — calling to action the nearly 18 million people that call our watershed home.”

The new Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement comprises 10 interrelated goals, which are linked to measurable and time-bound outcomes:  clean water, abundant wildlife and a vibrant cultural heritage, where diverse populations of citizens and stakeholders have access to waterways and open space, and are engaged in conservation and stewardship. The Agreement also includes management strategies, which for the first time will describe how and when the jurisdictions intend to achieve these outcomes.

“I am pleased to see that this Agreement aligns closely with strategies developed by federal agencies in response to President Obama’s Executive Order on Bay protection and restoration,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, who also chairs the Federal Leadership Committee for the Chesapeake Bay. “When there is consensus and commitment toward a common goal, our effectiveness is that much stronger. Together, we demonstrate our commitment toward a common goal—a restored, healthy and economically vibrant watershed.”

Developed through an extensive collaborative process over many months, thousands of citizens from across the watershed provided input that directly influenced the Agreement’s content, resulting in the addition of key issues like toxic contaminants and climate change.  It also marks the first time that the Bay’s headwater states of New York, West Virginia and Delaware have pledged to work toward restoration goals that reach beyond water quality.  The governors of New York and West Virginia are expected to sign the Agreement on behalf of their states.

“This landmark Agreement is forward-looking and results oriented, recognizing that our work must be sustained by and for future generations,” said Joe Gill, Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary and 2014 Chair of the Executive Council Principal Staff Committee.  “The management strategies – to which Maryland is fully committed – will provide for unprecedented levels of transparency, accountability and public engagement.”

“This comprehensive agreement will result in water quality restoration that not only restores the Bay, but also protects our streams, rivers, reservoirs and groundwater that we depend on for water supply and recreation for 17 million people living in the watershed,” said Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Robert M. Summers.

Underscoring these commitments, the Council’s Annual Meeting included briefings from the Bay Program’s Citizen, Scientific and Local Government Advisory Committees along with special presentations by student leaders from across the Watershed.  In 2010, Maryland became the first state in the nation to adopt and environmental literacy graduation requirement.

“Knowledge is the foundation for giving students an active role in preserving and protecting the Bay,” said Devan Ogburn, a rising senior at Leonardtown High School in St. Mary’s County. “I have seen that students become motivated when they have a meaningful understanding of the issues and what role they play in connection to them.”   

This marks Governor O’Malley’s third and final term as Chair of the Executive Council; in 2008, Governor O’Malley led the Executive Council to adopt 2-year milestones, bringing an unprecedented level of focus, transparency and accountability to the Bay Program model.

The meeting is the second in a series of ‘Governing for Results’ events, which promote the O’Malley-Brown Administration’s 16 strategic goals to make Maryland a safer, healthier, more sustainable state. Today’s event highlights Maryland’s efforts to achieve its goal of reaching a healthier Chesapeake Bay tipping point by 2025.

Under Governor O’Malley’s leadership, Maryland has exceeded its milestone goals for stormwater and septic improvements, and wastewater treatment plant upgrades in each of the past two tracking period, and increased cover crop plantings by 200% since 2006.  Advances supporting this work include:  development of BayStat, an online tool used by managers and citizens to track and target restoration; creation of the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund , which has directed $256 million to support local restoration projects that reduce non-point source pollution from entering the Bay; passage of first of its kind no-net loss of forest legislation; adoption of a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 25% by 2020.

At today’s meeting, Governor O’Malley announced new funding including: $2.6 million in additional funding for Bay-related projects, including $250,000 in grants to non-profit organizations for infrastructure improvements and community outreach through the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund; $1.6 million in Watershed Assistance Collaborative funding to help local governments meet their milestones, in partnership with the EPA and the Chesapeake Bay Trust; and more than $750,000 over the next three years for teacher Professional development to further support our Environmental Literacy commitments.

“Together with the citizens of this great watershed — farmers, students, conservationists, business and community leaders and faith-based organizations — we are taking the steps needed to turn our words to deeds, to convert this new Agreement to an improved Chesapeake Bay,” said Governor O’Malley.  “And I believe we are in the best position yet to move the Chesapeake Bay to a tipping point–the point where the tide of restoration will finally have been turned.”

Members of the Chesapeake Executive Council include the governors of Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, the mayor of the District of Columbia, the chair of the Chesapeake Bay Commission and the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on behalf of the federal government. This assembly is responsible for setting the Chesapeake Bay Program’s policy agenda.

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