Advertisement

Hogan avoids confrontation but rejects idea that Maryland should pay Pennsylvania to clean the Chesapeake Bay

A week after Pennsylvania officials said the commonwealth would “gladly accept” money from Maryland to improve Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said that’s not on the table.

“No,” he said at a Thursday meeting of bay watershed state leaders, when asked whether Maryland would offer financial support to its neighbor from the north.

Advertisement

Pennsylvania officials were responding to a letter Hogan sent last week to officials in that state and at the Environmental Protection Agency demanding larger reductions in pollution from the Keystone State. On Thursday, he wouldn’t go further than to say: “More of the pollution that goes into the bay comes from Pennsylvania than comes from Maryland.”

Still, there was no public confrontation between the states’ leaders at the meeting in Oxon Hill. Both Hogan and Patrick McDonnell, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, said there was no “tiff” between the states on either side of the Mason-Dixon Line.

To some Chesapeake advocates, that was disappointing.

As EPA reviews states’ plans guiding them toward a goal of restoring the Chesapeake Bay by 2025, bay advocates and Hogan have criticized Pennsylvania’s as being inadequate. Via the Susquehanna River, the state is a major source of nutrient and sediment pollution fouling the bay.

Will Baker, president of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, said it was frustrating to see Hogan refrain from calling out Pennsylvania and EPA officials in person, just days after doing so in writing.

“There was no leadership today,” Baker said.

In response, Hogan spokesman Michael Ricci called Baker’s comments “certainly not helpful” but said the governor was glad the foundation is supporting accountability for Pennsylvania.

McDonnell suggested the criticisms of Pennsylvania are overblown.

He said calculations that Pennsylvania has committed to just 77 percent of what’s necessary to meet its pollution reduction goals ignore some practices that will promote better water quality. He mentioned work to restore wetlands and reduce pollution from abandoned mines and dirt roads as examples.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler would not comment on Pennsylvania’s plans, or those of any other states, and said his office would need weeks to review them. If they fall short, he said, EPA would act.

In Maryland, bay advocates will be watching and waiting.

Baker said that if EPA doesn’t hold Pennsylvania to doing its part, the foundation would consider legal action demanding regulators enforce the federal Clean Water Act.

Advertisement
Advertisement