West and Rhode Riverkeeper

We work with our community to enforce environmental law, to
promote restoration, and to advocate for better environmental policy.
Contact us: 410-867-7171  ♦  4800 Atwell Rd, #6, Shady Side, MD 20764

West and Rhode Riverkeeper Blog

Description of my blog
Tags >> clean water act
Aug 30

Federal legislation update

Posted by in legislation , clean water act , Cardin

The Chesapeake Clean Water and Ecosystem Restoration Act of 2009, proposed by Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland, is currently in the Senate. We are all frustrated with the slow pace of the Chesapeake Bay cleanup, and this bill, which would amend the Clean Water Act, seeks to provide new measures to help speed up the effort. However, despite the good intentions, recent amendments to the bill - made to get the votes needed to move it out of committee - significantly weaken the bill. As a result of the amendments, most Waterkeepers and some other environmental organizations feel that it would end up doing more harm than good.

The primary cause of our concern is that provisions of the bill will weaken the Clean Water Act, which is a proven tool for improving our impaired waterways. The bill would exempt some polluters from permitting requirements, would create a “safe harbor” for agriculture operations, and would set up a market-based pollution trading scheme which doesn’t contain an appropriate level of verification and accountability. For these reasons, although we acknowledge Senator Cardin’s good intentions, we oppose the current version of the bill.

For more information, see a Q&A document and a comparison chart of the Clean Water Act vs. the proposed bill.


Apr 22

Earth Day: Have We Earned the Right to Celebrate?

Posted by Chris in EPA , Earth Day , clean water act , chesapeake bay

This is the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, founded in 1970. Much is being made in the media of the significance of Earth Day and its meaning today. As someone with a passion for environmental issues, I thought I’d lend my voice to the chorus.

Cuyahoga River on fireIn 1970, Earth Day was founded as an angry response to an unacceptable situation. The Potomac River was a cesspool, the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland caught on fire, and air pollution was so bad smog was killing people. People were marching in the streets. The anger translated to activism, and the whole country demanded change. Victories soon followed with the founding of the EPA (1970), the Clean Water Act (1972), and the Endangered Species Act (1973) just to name a few.

Now, 40 years later, Earth Day has a much different feel. Businesses promote “green” products, school kids plant trees, and there is some sort of Earth Day concert with Sting planned on the DC mall this weekend. These new ways of celebrating Earth Day have somewhat of a celebratory feel about them. And there have certainly been victories to cheer, but it almost feels like Earth Day is taking a victory lap. We need to ask ourselves, did we earn the right to celebrate yet?

With regard to the Chesapeake Bay, I would say no. Scientists and activists alike agree that the Bay is in poor condition. We have a long way to go to get to the point when we can pat ourselves on the back. Back in 1970, politicians feared being voted out of office if they didn’t vote for the environment. Looking back at the last Maryland General Assembly, we can see that is not the case today.

We need environmental stewardship to be completely interwoven into all aspects of our lives. How we drive, what we buy, where our electric comes from. How many of us just think about that once a year during Earth Day? If we want a restored Bay, then every day is going to have to be Earth Day, not just once a year.


Earth Day Every Day


Dec 06

Waterkeeper organizations in Maryland petition to the Environmental Protection Agency

Posted by Chris in Waterkeeper , protection , Maryland , environmental , clean water act , chesapeake bay , alliance , agency

Today, 12 Waterkeeper organizations in Maryland (including West/Rhode Riverkeeper) along with the Waterkeeper Alliance submitted a petition to the Environmental Protection Agency. The petition calls for EPA to withdraw Maryland's delegated authority to administer the Clean Water Act's pollution permitting program for dischargers in the state unless the State takes the necessary corrective action and improves its performance. Maryland Department of the Environment and Governor O'Malley's office were notified of this action in advance.

The Chesapeake Bay watershed is in crisis, and drastic action is needed. We submitted this petition with the singular purpose of improving the health of the Chesapeake Bay. It is our sincere hope that this action will result in a positive change in the way that Maryland enforces the Clean Water Act, and will ultimately help speed up the Bay's recovery.