EPA chief to lead bay restoration effort

Baltimore Sun

The Environmental Protection Agency's chief took the helm Tuesday of the struggling Chesapeake Bay restoration effort and declared that reinvigorating the regional cleanup "will require innovation and creativity of us all."

EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson became chairwoman of the bay "executive council," which sets the policy agenda for the cleanup. She succeeds Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, whose four-year gubernatorial term ends this month. Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley is another council member and past chairman.

Jackson assumes the annual leadership post as the Obama administration moves to expand federal direction of what has been a mostly voluntary multistate "partnership" over the past 26 years, during which the effort repeatedly missed its cleanup goals. President Barack Obama issued an executive order in May directing federal agencies to come up with a strategy for leading the restoration effort. That plan, which proposes to expand regulatory controls on polluted runoff from farms and developed land, was aired in November and is to be finalized in May.

The EPA is in the process of drawing up a detailed pollution "diet" for the bay, due by the end of this year.

Jackson said the Obama administration supports in principle the federal bay cleanup legislation introduced by Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin and Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, both Maryland Democrats, which would provide up to $1.5 billion in additional federal funding to pay for controlling runoff. But Jackson stopped short of endorsing the bills' proposed expansion of the EPA's authority to regulate farm and suburban runoff, saying she wasn't sure it was needed.

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