Penn. governor to be named chairman of Chesapeake Executive Council

Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell will take over as chairman of the Chesapeake Executive Council when the panel meets next month to establish the policy direction for the restoration and protection of the Chesapeake Bay and its resources. This is the first time since the council was formed some 20 years ago that a Pennsylvania governor will serve as chairman...

HARRISBURG, PA, Dec. 3, 2004 (PRNewswire) -- Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell will take over as chairman of the Chesapeake Executive Council when the panel meets next month to establish the policy direction for the restoration and protection of the Chesapeake Bay and its resources. This is the first time since the council was formed some 20 years ago that a Pennsylvania governor will serve as chairman.

"Pennsylvania and its partners in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed remain committed to finding new and better ways to protect and preserve this priceless natural resource," Governor Rendell said. "For more than two decades, the Chesapeake Executive Council has been an important voice in restoration efforts to protect a way of life for millions of residents who rely on the Bay and ensure greater benefits to all of those who enjoy its bounty and beauty. Despite all of the progress we've made, a great deal more work remains to be done."

The meeting will take place Monday, Jan. 10 at historic Mount Vernon, Va. Governor Rendell said the executive council continues to promote active leadership and seek innovative approaches to improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay and reduce nutrient pollution permanently and consistently throughout the watershed. The meeting is expected to discuss Bay restoration financing strategies, oyster management and efforts to reopen rivers to migratory fish.

More than half of Pennsylvania is within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, even though the state doesn't share a single mile of waterfront. The Susquehanna River, the Bay's largest tributary, provides half of the total freshwater flow to the Bay. The Potomac River adds another 20 percent.

Governor Rendell said the new post provides an opportunity to share some of the promising steps the Commonwealth has taken to improve water quality. From 1985 through 2002, the Chesapeake Bay Program's Watershed Model estimated that Pennsylvania implemented measures to reduce phosphorus going to the Bay by 858,000 pounds per year, cut nitrogen by more than 10.9 million pounds per year and reduced sediment by 130,000 tons per year.

Pennsylvania was the first state to enact nutrient management laws for farms, initiate phosphorus limits on major wastewater dischargers and achieve a net gain of wetland resources. Since 1982, the state has gained more than 6,000 acres. The state has restored 740 miles of riparian forest buffers - substantially more than the 600 miles that the Commonwealth initially committed to restoring by 2010 - and is developing a new initiative to allow these buffers to be permanently preserved with conservation easements.

The Chesapeake Executive Council was established by the Chesapeake Bay Agreement of 1983 to coordinate the work of restoring and protecting Chesapeake Bay. In accordance with the 1987 Chesapeake Bay Agreement, the council is the governing body for restoration efforts undertaken by Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Chesapeake Bay Commission. On June 28, 2000, the same six signatories approved a third agreement, Chesapeake 2000, which sets goals for Bay restoration over the next 10 years.

The council's six members serve ex officio. They include the governors of Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia; the mayor of the District of Columbia; the EPA administrator; and the chairperson of the Chesapeake Bay Commission. The outgoing chairman is Virginia Gov. Mark Warner.

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