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The Baltimore Sun

Editorial: States commit to cleanup

Monday's re-signing of an agreement to help protect the Chesapeake Bay is a step in the right direction, but the real evidence of states' commitment won't come for about 90 days, the deadline states have to submit specific plans outlining what they are going to do.

The agreement, which is an update to a similar agreement signed 14 years ago, takes environmental protection to the next level by also considering such things as climate change and toxic contaminants, as well as water quality.

Republican Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett said the agreement was "a responsible way to approach improving both the water quality and the environment of the entire region that means so much to all of us here today."

Other governors present at the meeting, hosted by Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, were Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Delaware Gov. Jack Markell. McAuliffe said a commission on climate change in his state that has been inactive for the past four years will be revived, "not only to protect the resiliency of the bay's watershed, but also for the rest of Virginia, especially our coastal areas."

Having officials from neighboring states come together and express their belief in the importance of protecting our environment and the Chesapeake Bay watershed is a positive step. While the states signed a similar agreement previously, over the years there has not always been a concerted effort to improve the environment and protect the bay watershed area. Having both Democratic and Republican state leaders on board and committed to developing specific plans concerning what they will do demonstrates the overall commitment of those involved to environmental stewardship.

William Baker, president of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, told The Associated Press that the agreement was noteworthy for requiring states that have signed to submit plans with 90 days as to how they are going to implement management promises.

"That's critical, and we've never had that before in one of these agreements," Baker told the AP.

What is also critical is the energy the states put behind making sure the proposals put forth in the plans become reality.

For now, getting everyone on the same page is a good start. Now the focus must be on the specifics of the plans, and how states intend to achieve their goals.

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