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Corbett Agenda - Protecting The Chesapeake Bay Watershed

As part of his campaign platform, Gov.-elect Tom Corbett laid out a series of commitments on protecting the environment, developing Pennsylvania's energy resources, enhancing agriculture and promoting sportsmen's  issues.

            PA Environment Digest is taking a look at the commitments he made on protecting the Chesapeake Bay Watershed--

            During the past several decades, Pennsylvania has been faced with numerous public policy challenges related to the cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay. Roughly 50 percent of the Commonwealth’s land area is part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and its rivers and streams in the Potomac and Susquehanna basins provide a similar percentage of the fresh water that ultimately reaches the bay, making it a key participant in bay restoration activities.
            In recent years, Pennsylvania’s challenges in helping to clean up the Bay have taken on greater urgency. The EPA Chesapeake Bay Program Office has announced its work on establishing a total maximum daily load (TDML) calculation for the Bay watershed, which dictates the amount of pollutant that a water body can receive and still meet water quality standards. 
            While the EPA is responsible for developing the Chesapeake TDML, the states in the Bay watershed will be responsible for implementing it. At the same time, Pennsylvania will also need to address numerous non-Bay water quality challenges, as a court ordered assessment of the commonwealth’s streams found that nearly 20 percent of all stream miles are impaired. 
            As a result, cleanup plans similar to that required for the Chesapeake Bay either have been implemented or will be required to reduce nutrient and sediment pollution.
            As Governor, Tom Corbett will work to strike the balance between protecting our environment and growing economic development opportunities and jobs.

Utilize sound science to reduce pollution. Pennsylvania must develop a strategy for reducing pollution in Pennsylvania's streams and rivers to meet federal requirements in implementing TMDL plans for the Chesapeake Bay and local waterways in the commonwealth. 
            Tom Corbett believes that this strategy should ensure future growth, yield the maximum environmental benefits for Pennsylvania waterways, involve key stakeholders, be based on sound science and practicable engineering and utilize mechanisms that impose the least possible cost to taxpayers. 
            This strategy will maximize public-private partnerships to provide funding for agricultural best management practices through the implementation of a viable, functioning nutrient credit trading program and drive private funding to farmers to install best management practices.

Develop an implementation plan for the Chesapeake Bay TMDL and local TMDLs. To be accountable to the public, state government must have an open, accessible process for adopting the regulations and policies that will govern its citizens. 
            Tom Corbett will direct DEP to develop a realistic implementation plan that involves all stakeholders, effectively utilizes technology (including new “green” technology where applicable) and emphasizes finding the least-cost solutions to the requirements imposed to guard against the imposition of unfunded mandates on Pennsylvania taxpayers.

Create partnerships on the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Taxpayers demand cooperation among different levels of government and partners to achieve common goals. 
            Tom Corbett will direct the DEP Secretary to actively seek out and develop partnerships with watershed groups, local governments, conservation districts and the business community to achieve the agency's environmental goals of cleaning up Pennsylvania's waterways at the lowest cost to taxpayers and in a way that protects jobs and economic opportunities for the Commonwealth’s citizens.

Assist Pennsylvania farmers and conservation districts to comply with Chesapeake Bay TDML. As Governor, Tom Corbett will work to identify existing funding resources to support county conservation districts and take other steps to ensure that Pennsylvania takes maximum advantage of the federal Farm Bill and other funding needed to implement federal requirements in the Commonwealth. 
            In addition, Tom Corbett will work to restore the Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) tax credit program that is efficiently providing help to farmers to install BMPs.

Refocus available environmental restoration funding. If Pennsylvania is to make progress in restoring the Bay and addressing local water quality issues, all sources of pollution must be addressed, and the greatest emphasis must be on the biggest sources of pollution in a cost-effective manner—all the while being guided by accurate science on the Bay’s condition. 
            Within the constraints of the Commonwealth’s economic and fiscal conditions, Tom Corbett will refocus available environmental restoration funding on the critical environmental needs of the Commonwealth that will protect the environment and lead to job creation.

            The complete Environmental Policy from Gov.-elect Corbett is available online.


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