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Chesapeake Bay Gets Attention in DC Today

June 30, 2010

RICHMOND, Va. - Clean water is a right, not a luxury. That's part of the reasoning behind a bill getting some attention in Washington, D.C., today that would help preserve and protect the Chesapeake Bay.

The Chesapeake Clean Water Act has been more than two-and-a-half years in the making, according to Doug Siglin, federal affairs director for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. He says that as the tragedy continues to unfold in the Gulf, more people realize both the economic and environmental importance of protecting our nation's water.

Although the pollution affecting The Chesapeake is not as visible as that in the Gulf, the long-term implications of doing nothing are many, Siglin warns.

"The pollution loads that are going into the Chesapeake Bay have destroyed fish and wildlife, just as we see in the Gulf, and certainly have destroyed fishing families, fishing communities, crabbing communities."

The Chesapeake Clean Water Act is scheduled to be presented to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which also will vote on similar legislation that would address pollution in other waters, such as the Great Lakes, Long Island Sound and the Gulf of Mexico.

If the bill passes, Siglin says, it will use science to set pollution limits and require federal and local governments to help achieve those limits.

"The federal government will set a standard for what acceptable levels of pollution are for the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries and ask each state to come up with a plan that would over the next 15 years bring pollution down to those acceptable levels."

The bill, known as the Clean Water and Ecosystem Restoration Act, is HB 3852; the Senate version is S 1816.

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - VA