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Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Remarks on the Strategy for Protecting and Restoring the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, As Prepared

05/12/2010
As prepared for delivery.

As some of you know, last night I returned from my second trip to the Gulf Coast since the beginning of the BP spill. The response to the spill is a vivid illustration of just how valuable local waters and wetlands are to our health and the environment…to the economy and to the entire way of life of a community. I’ve said it many times that growing up in New Orleans, between the Gulf and the Mississippi River, I learned first-hand the value of living by the water and what that means to a community. It’s the same thing I see here. Whether we face an immediate, emergency situation as we do with the BP Spill, or the accumulation of daily pollution and environmental degradation – our responsibilities to address the problems and find solutions are exactly the same. That is why we are all here today.

Under the leadership of President Obama, EPA and our colleagues in multiple federal agencies have been tasked to strengthen the protections for the Chesapeake Bay in unprecedented ways. And for very good reasons. Protecting the Bay is about protecting the lives and livelihoods of 17 million Americans who live in this region. It’s about the people who live and work here. And it’s about safeguarding this irreplaceable ecosystem.

Exactly one year ago today at Mount Vernon I helped announce the President’s Executive Order bringing together EPA, 10 federal agencies, six states and the District of Columbia to address the impacts of pollution throughout the Chesapeake and its 64,000-square-mile watershed. Today I’m proud to help present the Strategy for Protecting and Restoring the Chesapeake Bay Watershed – an effort to which we plan to devote unprecedented resources and unmatched effort.

This is a far-reaching and creative strategy. My colleagues will go into more details about specific efforts, but let me say that we are initiating one the most comprehensive protection effort in decades. We will be working with government at all levels, and engaging the farmers and forest owners and water workers and community groups who know this area best. We will implement broad conservation and restoration efforts – and we will strengthen our work to prevent pollution from the urban, suburban and rural areas that feed into the Bay. And, perhaps most importantly, we will implement higher levels of accountability than ever before. We are holding ourselves accountable for nothing short of real, measurable results. Federal agencies are setting two-year milestones to track our progress and support the states’ own two year milestones. We will also publish an Annual Action Plan detailing projects, priorities and funding for the year ahead. We will follow that up with an Annual Progress Report to track how well we deliver on those plans.

One of EPA primary roles in this effort is the enforcement of aggressive standards to protect the Bay from pollution, using rigorous regulation and enforcement to implement the pollution controls needed for clean water. We’re initiating rulemaking for CAFOs and stormwater and establishing a Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load, or TMDL. That TMDL will begin a strict “pollution diet” for the Bay and the region’s streams, creeks and rivers.

We’re also increasing enforcement and doubling state funding levels to $11.2 million this fiscal year. Let me emphasize that state partnerships on this effort are absolutely essential. The years of work from Governor O’Malley and others, the efforts of Governor Kaine when he served as chair of the Executive Council, and the commitment shown by Governor McDonnell to continue the state leadership on this issue are critical to our success. The work ahead of us requires innovation, but it also requires broad partnerships – federal, state, local and private. The quickest way to achieve success is to work together.

Another great example is the Earth Conservation Corps and the Living Classroom – some of whom are here with us and hosting us today. They are a great example of the energy we need to tap to do this job. And as members of the next generation, they are the people we are working for.

Today’s strategy is a map to guide us down the long road ahead. I have confidence that we will reach our destination. We will create a Chesapeake Bay where people can swim, picnic and fish, and communities where local economies can thrive. And we will restore the Chesapeake Bay and protect its legacy for future generations. I look forward to taking that journey with all of you. Thank you very much.