Schaefer calls for task force to coordinate coastal cleanup


PRINCETON, N.J. -- Maryland Gov. William Donald Schaefer said yesterday that he wants Atlantic seaboard states to do for their common coastline what mid-Atlantic states have been doing for the Chesapeake Bay: cooperating on cleanup and protection efforts.

Mr. Schaefer, a Democrat, yesterday joined Republican Gov. Michael N. Castle of Delaware and Democratic Gov. James J. Florio of New Jersey in calling for a National Governors' Association task force made up of coastal states to coordinate Atlantic Coast cleanup efforts.

Four states -- Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and Maine -- signed on immediately, said Kenneth E. Mannella, an aide to Mr. Schaefer and the head of Maryland's Washington office. Other states are in various stages of considering the measure, he said.

Governors Schaefer, Castle and Florio said there were many common problems such a group could address, including pollution control, wastewater effluent standards, storm protection, beach replenishment, preservation of "greenways," sludge disposal and fisheries management.

Mr. Schaefer said he hoped for an interim report in six months and a full report in a year.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, unhealthy levels of pollution forced beaches in Maryland and other coastal states to be closed more than 2,000 times last year, some permanently. Most closings and health advisories occurred in Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey and New York, and along the Southern California coast.

Eight coastal states, including Georgia and the Carolinas, do not even monitor coastal beaches, the environmental group said.

Delaware is a small state and "primarily a recipient of problems" caused by other states, Governor Castle said.

Governor Florio said the Jersey Shore is the centerpiece of his state's $18 billion tourist industry, but said it is threatened not only by winter storms, but by the greatest population density of any state in the nation.

Within the next five years, Mr. Schaefer said, "some 75 percent of the U.S. population will live within 50 miles of a coast. That means more development pressure, and more pollution straining our coasts." Mr. Schaefer said if all Atlantic coast states do not join the task force, the remaining states will do what they can by themselves. "If one governor doesn't sign, it won't stop me from making every effort we can," he said.

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