Pennsylvania's "reboot" of Bay cleanup plan faces criticism

Written by Ben Allen and Radio Pennsylvania | Mar 7, 2016 1:04 PM

Photo by Wikimedia Commons/Alex Zorach

(Harrisburg) -- The U.S. Supreme Court recently decided it will not hear a challenge from farm groups over pollution limits in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Now, Pennsylvania's plan is slated to be implemented without the fear that the nation's highest court will force changes.

The Wolf administration is calling its cleanup plan for the Chesapeake Bay watershed a reboot.

It was announced about a month ago.

At a recent hearing, some Republican state lawmakers said they don't think county conservation district workers should be doing the lead work on the plan -- noting it could cause some friction with farmers.

But Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding says the conservation workers are the best option.

"There are a lot of variables in this discussion that can create tension, but I believe it can be a healthy tension. We need to take a long view of the task, keep our coequal goals in view and look at our local communities for solutions," says Redding.

Redding says he also wants to make sure farms that are taking steps to cut down on pollution get credit for their work.

"We need to ensure that all farms do the right things, but also that all farms get the credit for what they are doing. It's difficult to ask them to do more if they're not getting credit for what they're already doing and that's really been a guiding principle in this strategy," he adds.

Some Pennsylvania Republicans also claim President Obama's proposed budget cuts funding for the Environmental Protection Agency's Chesapeake Bay work, but that couldn't be immediately confirmed.

However, the state Department of Environmental Protection has lost 700 positions over the past 14 years, according to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

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