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Bolder action needed for Chesapeake Bay recovery

Scientists monitor fish in the Chesapeake Bay as an indicator of water quality.

I write to compliment former state Sen. Gerald Winegrad, Patuxent Riverkeeper Fred Tutman and Kathy Phillips of the Assateague Coastal Trust for speaking the inconvenient truths about the serious conditions in the Chesapeake Bay (“‘Code red’ for the Chesapeake Bay,” Jan. 11). Indeed, the documentation they detail calls for much bolder action from our feckless so-called leaders in both the political and environmental community.

Not only do these “leaders” refuse to address the Bay’s biggest problem — agricultural pollution, especially manure from huge chicken operations — but they repeatedly take news about the bay and try to conflate it into a sign of their successes. For example, the spinmeisters were at work when Chesapeake Bay grasses increased 5 percent in 2017 and reached 104,843 acres declaring this to be a record amount. This is patently false, and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation continues to perpetuate this falsehood. Bay grasses covered 220,000 or more acres not that long ago and may have covered in the several hundreds of thousands of acres many years ago. Left out of this celebration was the fact that the bay states agreed in 2000 to achieve 185,000 acres of coverage by 2010, a goal they abandoned.

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With the crash of oyster populations, the decline in blue crabs and the failure to meet mandated, legally-binding pollution reductions, you would think there would be bold federal and state actions and EPA actions against the recalcitrant states. But instead, the Hogan administration, with the support of the Bay Foundation, is looking into whether to further delay the regulation of more poultry farms dumping millions of pounds of manure on soils that cannot take the excess nutrients. And one of the environmentalists’ big 2019 initiatives is a ban on polystyrene!

Let’s turn this ship around now and aggressively address agricultural and developed land runoff or watch the Bay perish.

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Ken Hastings, Mechanicsville

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