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Group: EPA went easy on Maryland bay cleanup plan

Talk about grading the graders. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation took issue Monday with the Environmental Protection Agency's rating of the bay pollution cleanup plan drawn up by Maryland officials.

The Annapolis-based environmental group agreed with the EPA that Maryland had put together a "strong plan,'' but said the jury's still out on whether the state will follow through with its commitment to raise the funds needed to carry out the pollution reductions in its plan.

Alison Prost, CBF's Maryland executive director, called "good first steps" a trio of bills pushed by Gov.Martin O'Malley: 1) to raise the "flush fee" to pay for upgrading sewage treatments plans; 2) to limit new development on septic systems; and 3) to steer growth towards rural villages.

She urged lawmakers to pass those, but added: "The EPA evaluation falls short in one area. Maryland must do more to prevent new sources of pollution as the state continues to grow."

Prost called on the legislature to tackle the pollution from future growth by passing bills to require less-polluting septic tanks whenever they are used, and to force the state's counties and municipalities to levy fees on their residents that would pay for reducing pollluted storm runoff from streets and parking lots.

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