The Rally to Save the Bay - Oceana USA
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November 20, 2008

The Rally to Save the Bay


This morning I attended the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s rally to Save the Bay. The rally was a lead-up to today’s meeting of the Executive Council of the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program. On Oct. 29, the CBF, along with its allies, filed a notice of intent to sue the EPA for its failure to enforce the federal Clean Water Act and clean up the Bay by 2010 as it promised in a 2000 agreement.There were a few hundred people gathered outside Union Station, most wearing symbolically black shirts with the words, “The Bay is Slowly Dying” and chanting “Don’t Delay! Save the Bay!” In CBF’s most recent State of the Bay health report card, the bay received an overall combined grade of D — including the categories of pollution, fisheries, and habitat. Among other causes, nitrogen and phosphorus pollution from wastewater treatment centers, urban growth and development, and climate change are leading to toxic algae blooms, fish kills due to algae or oxygen-deprived dead zones, murkier waters due to algae and sediment overloads; dying grasses and marshlands, and declining populations of oysters, menhaden, and other water-filtering animals.Will Baker, the president of the CBF, told the crowd, “This will be the biggest fight for clean water this country has ever seen.” Baker later told me he was pleased with the rally’s turnout, but that he still expects to meet the EPA in court in January. “We have the law on our side,” he said.The chairman of CBF’s board, Keith Campbell, taunted the EPA, saying that in the last decade it has become the “Environmental Pollution Agency.” He predicted that the Bay would not be removed from the impaired waters list until 2040. Ken Smith of the Virginia Waterman’s Association (pictured above) had to pause and choke back tears as he told the crowd about his memories of the Bay. “Those days are gone, but I’m hoping it will happen again.” Smith said that in 1977, there were 8,000 waterman. Now there are fewer than 3,000. “You used to make a good living, but not anymore,” he said. “It’s just not the same.”