Chesapeake Bay

Don Rush

Today marks Earth Day and it's been over 50 years since it was first observed. Here on the Eastern Shore much has been done to improve the region's environment including cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay. Delmarva Public's Don Rush talked with Alan Girard, the Eastern Shore director with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, about the efforts and progress that has been made.

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The passing of former Maryland Senator Paul Sarbanes has many remembering him as a steady and pragmatic lawmaker. Delmarva Public Media's Don Rush talked with former Republican Congressman Wayne Gilchrest about the man, his importance to the Chesapeake Bay and the coming of a more partisan GOP.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation Website

Funding for the Chesapeake Bay Program will get $455 million over the next five years under measure approved by the U.S. House of Representatives.

It also provides funding for local projects.

The Salisbury Daily Times reports that Virginia Eastern Shore Representative Elaine Luria (D-Va) who sponsored the bill said that the measure will ensure that the Bay will be clean for future generations.

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Those looking for striped bass should expect few chances to reel them in this year.

And, possibly in the near future.

The fish have been found to be in trouble with Maryland and Virginia reducing the size of the allowed catch.

In Virginia that has meant a 24 percent reduction for recreational fishermen.

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Congressman Andy Harris has announced a half million dollar federal grant to protect coastal communities, watershed and the Chesapeake Bay.

The money will be used by the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Sciences in Cambridge.

The National Science Foundation which is providing the funds says it is aimed at problems like sea level rise and the impact of storms faced by urban and rural communities along the bays and estuary.

In addition, the research will look for ways to protect marshes, oyster reefs and sand dunes.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation Website

The U.S. Senate has approved a $15 million grant program for restoration of the Chesapeake Bay.

The funds would come from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to support restoring habitat in the Bay Watershed.

Senator Chris Van Hollen, who co-authored the measure, said that protecting the region’s wildlife is essential to the state’s economy and environment.

Meanwhile, West Virginia Senator Shelley Capito said that the Chesapeake WILD Act would establish the first federal wildlife conservations grants tailored to benefiting species in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

Don Rush

(AP) Virginians may soon be paying higher gas and tobacco taxes but won't have to get their cars inspected each year. Gov. Ralph Northam unveiled a $135 billion, two-year state budget plan Tuesday that includes those ideas.

The plan also proposes hefty new spending to boost early education, clean up the Chesapeake Bay, and reduce health insurance premiums.

The Democratic governor says his budget would also put more money in reserves than the state has ever had, while addressing areas that have been underfunded for decades.

oceanart.us

(AP) Governors in nine states along the Atlantic coast are urging the Trump Administration to stop a company that makes fish-oil supplements from fishing in Virginia waters.

A letter sent Friday from those governors echoes concerns of fishing regulators who say Omega Protein defied harvest limits in the Chesapeake Bay.  

The firm catches a fish called Atlantic menhaden that's considered a vital link to the bay's food chain. Menhaden are food for striped bass, whales and other animals.

Angela Byrd

The Chesapeake Bay Program report found that there was more fresh water in the estuary, the effects of which could be felt in the years to come.

The report found that from May of last year through October of 2019 the entire bay has experienced below-average salinity levels.

The Salisbury Daily Times reports that in February the mid-bay area was at a record low.

Omega Protein

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia's governor is urging the Trump administration to stop a company that makes fish-oil supplements from fishing in the Chesapeake Bay.

Gov. Ralph Northam has asked U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to place a moratorium on the catching of menhaden in the bay.

Northam's letter, dated Wednesday, says the moratorium will protect a fish that's vital to the bay's food chain and serves as food for striped bass, dolphins and birds.

Exelon Corp

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is announcing an agreement with Exelon on the Conowingo Dam that requires the company to invest more than $200 million in environmental projects.

Hogan said Tuesday the money in the proposed settlement will be used to improve water quality in the Lower Susquehanna River and the Chesapeake Bay.

The administration says elements of the agreement will be submitted for approval to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, as part of the licensing renewal for the dam.

Don Rush

The warm weather and a good deal of rain could be bad news for the Chesapeake Bay with the prospect of a 2 cubic miles dead zone.

WBOC reports that the Maryland Department of Natural Resources confirmed that they found a two mile zone that was significantly worse than in previous years.

Dead zones are created when there is no oxygen in the water.

Scientists say that the combination of freshwater pollution and heat have created the unusually large dead zone impacting bay’s watermen.

chesapeakebay.net

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Maryland environmental officials say underwater grasses in the nation's largest estuary were mostly resilient to last year's record rain and increased runoff pollutants.

A state Department of Natural Resources statement says a total of about 91,000 acres of seagrass were mapped in Chesapeake Bay the last year, only a slight drop from the 105,000 acres mapped in 2017. It says the actual acreage for last year could be significantly higher, as more than 20% of the bay wasn't fully mapped due to bad weather and other issues.

Exelon Corp

CONOWINGO, Md. (AP) - For decades, the Conowingo Dam has trapped huge amounts of sediment and prevented it from polluting the Chesapeake Bay - but now there's a huge stockpile of the stuff behind the dam's high wall.

How big a threat this sediment poses to the Chesapeake Bay or whether anything can even be done about it depends on who you talk to. With Maryland pushing to curb pollution in dam discharges, the issue has become a political football as Conowingo's operator seeks to renew its federal license to operate the dam for 46 more years after its old license expired.

Angela Byrd

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) - A nonprofit that tracks pollution in the Chesapeake Bay is once again lambasting Pennsylvania for not doing enough to protect the nation's largest estuary.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation released a report Tuesday that says Pennsylvania's plan to reduce pollution is "woefully inadequate."

States are tasked with keeping farm manure and storm water from flowing into the bay's watershed. The pollution limits plant and animal life in the Chesapeake.

cbf.org

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - The chief executive of Anne Arundel County, Maryland, has announced two new policies aimed at protecting the county's sensitive environmental areas and the Chesapeake Bay.

County Executive Steuart Pittman made the announcement on Wednesday at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in Annapolis.

One policy will require the location of wetlands to be verified before development plans are reviewed. Another will require developers to minimize and mitigate environmental impacts.

Don Rush

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - The chief executive of Anne Arundel County, Maryland, is set to announce two new policies aimed at protecting the Chesapeake Bay.

County Executive Steuart Pittman is making the announcement Wednesday at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in Annapolis. The county executive's office says the policies are aimed at improving the site development process to better protect wetlands and other natural areas.

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BALTIMORE (AP) - Blue crabs are rebounding in the Chesapeake Bay, with an annual survey showing the highest estimated population in seven years.

Overall, the bay-wide crab population rose by 60% from last year to reach an estimated total of 594 million. An annual winter survey released by the states of Maryland and Virginia shows almost twice as many juveniles as last year. Spawning-age females have increased, too.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation Website

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - The governors of four states and the mayor of the District of Columbia are asking Congressional leaders to boost funding for Chesapeake Bay cleanup.

The governors of Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Delaware and the mayor of Washington, D.C., called on House and Senate committee leaders in a letter released Wednesday to oppose proposed cuts to the federal Chesapeake Bay Program. Instead, they want an increase in funding from $73 million to $90 million.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation Website

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Maryland's governor is urging congressional leaders to oppose cuts to Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts in President Donald Trump's budget.

Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, made the request in a letter Monday to top leaders of both parties.

Hogan is asking them to boost federal funding to $90 million for the Environmental Protection Agency's Chesapeake Bay Program, which coordinates science, research, and modeling efforts.

Under the president's budget proposal, the program would get $7.3 million, down from $73 million this year.

Don Rush

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (AP) - Experts warn that President Trump's proposed budget will reverse years of progress in restoring the Chesapeake Bay's health. 

The Washington Post reported Friday that scientists say the nation's largest estuary is the healthiest it's been in generations. And they credit various efforts coordinated by the Environmental Protection Agency's Chesapeake Bay Program.

But the Trump Administration has proposed slashing the program's funding by 90 percent. It received $73 million in federal funding this fiscal year.

Don Rush

(AP) President Donald Trump is trying again to slash federal cleanup funding for major U.S. waterways, including the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay.

The budget proposes a 90 percent cut cleanup efforts in the Chesapeake Bay and would eliminate restoration funding for the Gulf of Mexico, Lake Champlain, Long Island Sound, South Florida, San Francisco Bay and Puget Sound.

Trump sought similar cutbacks in his previous budgets but Congress rejected them.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Maryland's Senate has voted to make the state the first in the nation to ban foam containers for food and drink to fight pollution.

The Senate voted 34-13 on Tuesday for the measure. It now goes to the House of Delegates.

Sen. Cheryl Kagan, a Democrat who's sponsoring the bill, says more than half of the state's residents already live in places where foam containers are banned for food and drink containers. She says a statewide ban would be a step forward in fighting pollution and helping to clean the Chesapeake Bay.

Exelon Corp

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Gov. Larry Hogan's administration says it expects a pilot program to test removing dredge materials from the Conowingo Dam to be "substantially complete" this year.

The administration announced Monday that Northgate Dutra JV will carry out a $3 million pilot project to test the quality of sediment throughout the dam reservoir. It also will dredge and reuse a small portion of it to create a market for cost-effective recovery of material that has greater value on the land than as a threat to water quality in the river or Chesapeake Bay.

governor's office (File Photo)

During his State of the State address, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan offered up tax cuts, more education funding and an emphasis on bipartisanship. Delmarva Public Radio's Don Rush has this report on the governor's address.

Angela Byrd

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - An annual report on the Chesapeake Bay says pollution from unusually heavy rains last year contributed to the first decline in a decade in the overall health of the nation's largest estuary.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation President Will Baker said Monday the bay "suffered a massive assault last year," when large amounts of debris were flushed into the bay, mostly from Pennsylvania. The bay's grade sank from C-minus to D-plus, which is the first decline of a grade in a decade.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Gov. Ralph Northam has proposed a package of environmental legislation aimed at safely disposing of coal ash, helping coastal communities deal with flooding caused by climate change and continuing the cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay.

The legislative agenda unveiled Thursday includes the Coastal Protection Act. The law would allow the state to use an estimated $50 million in revenue from the sale of carbon pollution credits for coastal resilience projects.  It also would dedicate funds for economic transition for coal communities.

EPA

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) - Conservationists in Virginia and Maryland say a Trump administration proposal could undermine efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay.

The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk reported last week that the measure would roll back federal protections for certain waterways and wetlands.

It would specifically impact "ephemeral" streams, which flow after a rainstorm or snowmelt. Also under threat are isolated wetlands that experts say help to filter pesticides and fertilizer from nation's largest estuary.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam wants to increase state spending on efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay and improve the state's water quality.

Northam announced parts of his upcoming state budget plan Wednesday related to water issues.

The Democratic governor wants to increase funding for a program meant to help farmers improve water quality. He's also proposing to boost funding for a fund that helps cities and suburbs reduce pollution from storm-water runoff.

Northam said the spending would speed up efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay.

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NORFOLK, Va. (AP) - Efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay will soon get a boost in funding.

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the Environmental Protection Agency said Monday that more than $13 million in grants are being awarded to bay restoration and conservation programs. 

The health of the nation's largest estuary is improving after decades of poor health caused by pollution. But the bay still faces challenges when it comes to preventing manure and storm water from flowing into the watershed.

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