ANNAPOLIS, Md. – On Aug. 7, Governor Larry Hogan hosted the 2018 annual meeting of the Chesapeake Executive Council of the Chesapeake Bay Program, which consists of the governors of the six watershed states, the mayor of Washington, D.C., the chair of the Chesapeake Bay Commission, and the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). At the meeting, Governor Hogan was unanimously elected to chair the council for the second consecutive year.
The governor was joined at the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park in Baltimore, Md. by Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, Delaware Governor John Carney, Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, Chesapeake Bay Commission Chairman Frank Wagner, as well as representatives from New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, the District of Columbia, and key environmental stakeholders.
“As Chair of the Council, I am very pleased with the tremendous progress we are making together and looking forward to the continued opportunity to work with all of you,” said Governor Hogan. “This Council recognizes the power of innovation, collaboration, and partnership when it comes to achieving a cleaner and healthier Chesapeake Bay, a national treasure we have the responsibility to preserve and protect for future generations to come.”
Since taking office, Governor Hogan has invested a historic $4 billion in Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts, more than any governor in Maryland history. The latest annual report card for the Bay gave it the highest score for water quality ever recorded, the best in 33 years. A key indicator that the water quality is improving is the Bay underwater grass surging and surpassing 100,000 acres for the first time in modern history.
In recognition of this record of environmental stewardship, Governor Hogan was recently the recipient of the 2018 Maryland Environmental Service Environmental Business Leadership Award. The governor was also named Champion of the Chesapeake by the Chesapeake Conservancy in 2017.
Addressing the meeting, the governor emphasized the continued need to reduce sediment and nutrient pollution from the Susquehanna River which flows over the Conowingo Dam and into the Bay. Recent heavy rain and flooding caused many of Maryland’s coastal waterways and harbors to flood with debris and sediment, much of which came from upstream states. This sediment and debris are a threat to the environment; pose a serious danger to wildlife, boaters, and swimmers; and threaten to set back Bay restoration progress.
Critical progress was made in the meeting as the Bay leaders reaffirmed their commitment to developing a Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) for the Conowingo Dam, which is vital to reaching regional restoration goals by 2025.
Recognizing the critical role the agricultural industry plays in pollution reduction, Governor Hogan and the council members signed a directive for the principals’ staff committee to prioritize technical assistance for agriculture. They also jointly signed a letter to the U.S. Congress to reaffirm support for key environmental provisions in the federal Farm Bill, including the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, and the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program.
The Chesapeake Bay Program has also agreed to a coordinated environmental literacy effort, which commits to convening high level leaders, including state superintendents of education, every two years to discuss ways to enable students throughout the Chesapeake Bay region to graduate with the knowledge and skills needed to become the next generation of innovators and stewards for our waterways.
“I want to thank the Chesapeake Bay Program and the planning team chairs for organizing this important meeting, and I want to thank my colleagues for honoring me this morning by unanimously re-electing me to serve as chair of this Executive Council for the year ahead,” said the governor. “I believe very strongly that if we continue to embrace a spirit of bipartisan cooperation, together we can – and we will – find real, common sense solutions to protect the Chesapeake Bay.”
In addition to the administration’s unprecedented $4 billion investment, Governor Hogan was also the first governor in Maryland history to fully fund the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund in the administration’s last three budgets. The governor has also fully funded Program Open Space, the state’s premier land conservation and recreation program.