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Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Remarks at Chesapeake Bay Executive Council Meeting, As Prepared

07/11/2011
As prepared for delivery.

Thank you all for joining us today. As chair of the Executive Council I am happy to report that we had a productive meeting. The Bay Partnership is strong, and our path toward restoring the vital national treasure of the Chesapeake Bay remains on track.

When we came together in 2009, all of us – at every level of government – saw the significant challenges ahead of us to clean up the Bay and fulfill our responsibilities to the people who live and work in the region. Our state and city partners have made excellent progress on their commitments, and we are on track in most cases – though some are ahead of schedule – in meeting our goal of reducing 16 million pounds of nitrogen and just over 1 million pounds of phosphorus by the end of this year. That marks a significant increase in the pace of pollution reductions.

As the states and the District of Columbia make progress on their Watershed Implementation Plans, EPA is working with our federal partners to implement a strategy to support President Obama’s Executive Order to protect and restore the Chesapeake. Ultimately, we’ve come together at the federal, state and local levels like never before. We are dedicated to work that – if fully implemented – will measurably improve our Bay and rivers over the next 15 years.

These partnerships between our various government agencies are just the beginning. We are also counting on the partnership of the millions of people who live and work along the Bay’s waters and in the watershed. We need everyone’s help to revitalize the Chesapeake and the communities that rely on its waters – and that is what today’s meeting was focused on.

Today we talked at length about strategies for encouraging and empowering everyone to do their part in this effort, and there are plenty of things individuals or families can do that – combined with our efforts and the help of other people across the region – will add up to important results for the Bay.

To name a few examples: You could get out this weekend and plant a rain garden, install a rain barrel or simply make sure your sprinklers drain onto grass instead of driveways. These steps can reduce the wastewater and urban runoff that often carries pollutants and chemicals into the Bay. You could support native wildlife and waterfowl by planting more native plants in your backyard, and you could test your soil to make sure it’s healthy and to ensure that you’re using only the amount of fertilizer you need to help your lawn and garden grow.

There are widespread opportunities for everyone – not just individuals and families, but businesses and communities as well – to be a part of this restoration effort.

Poultry operations can implement new technology to reduce air and water pollution while recovering biomass for energy. Wastewater treatment plants can install technology to reduce phosphorus and nitrogen pollution. And communities can design green streets that will not only clean up the Chesapeake, but create local green jobs. And many of these actions are already happening around the watershed.

Across the Obama Administration we’ve proposed to provide more than $67 million in FY2012 to support the work of our Chesapeake Bay Partners. Much of that increase would go straight to the states and local governments to support their on-the-ground implementation efforts. At the federal level we’ll also – like our Bay partners – meet our standards by establishing two-year milestones. That will help ensure that we’re getting results and taking the right steps to reduce nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment from federal lands and facilities.

As they increase the number of citizen stewards in their Chesapeake Conservation Corps program, the National Park Service is developing a plan to assess demand…guide expansion…and identify opportunities for public access sites across the watershed.

Along with the US Geological Survey and the Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service will establish a watershed-wide, land-conservation prioritization system to allow federal, state and local partners to more effectively conserve critical lands.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will begin a program to train teachers on environmental issues, so local students can get hands-on experiences with nature and our waters.

And the Department of Defense will target ways to strengthen stormwater management strategies on military bases and prioritize actions to comply with the Bay’s pollution diet. They will be removing invasive species, restoring and cleaning up shorelines with local volunteers, and planting and distributing seeds, to name just a few of their actions.

The citizens of the Chesapeake Bay watershed should be confident that we have embarked upon a new era in bay restoration efforts. Having their engagement and partnership in this effort is important not only for the benefits they can help create, but also for holding us accountable. If the people of this region are committed to this effort, then they – and we – should expect that the elected officials and leaders forming this partnership match that commitment.

I think everyone up here would agree – and I know we all look forward to continuing our work. Right now, I’d like to introduce one of our partners, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell. Thank you.