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PA Groups Call “Time Out” in Chesapeake Bay Health Blame Game

April 10, 2008

Harrisburg, PA - We pay half, you pay half, and the job gets done. That's the new game plan unveiled by five groups who have made it their joint goal to see Pennsylvania meet federal requirements to stop pollution from entering and damaging Chesapeake Bay. The "fair share" proposal calls for $170 million in state money in 2009, for new sewage treatment plants and to help make changes in farm waste management.

Part of the goal is to help lessen the overall costs to utility ratepayers, farmers and other citizens. Matt Ehrhart, executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, says the new spirit of cooperation came about with the realization that the job simply wasn't getting done.

"Everybody started to recognize that the only way to do everything that needs to be done is for everybody to pull their piece of it, and not point fingers at each other."

In the past, Governor Rendell has taken the position that the infrastructure requirements are a federal responsibility; he has not yet commented on the new proposal. The plan calls for funding over the next several years on projects to control pollution. As Ehrhart puts it, the clock is ticking.

"We felt like now was the time. We have to take the first steps in the next budget, or we're going to get too far behind. And the longer we wait, the more expensive it's going to be."

In addition to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, four other groups are involved in the new strategy: the Pennsylvania Municipal Authorities Association, Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, Pennsylvania Builders Association, and the Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts.

Deborah Smith/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - PA