Ruckelshaus Pledges Continued Support of Chesapeake Cleanup

[EPA press release - December 13, 1984]

William D. Ruckelshaus, Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, today pledged a continuing commitment by EPA to the Chesapeake Bay cleanup.

His remarks came at a ceremony in the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., commemorating the first anniversary of the signing of the Chesapeake Bay Agreement.

"What is more important than my own personal role, EPA retains and renews its official and moral commitment to the Chesapeake," Ruckelshaus said. "By the very fact of Lee Thomas' presence, you may be assured of his personal dedication to the bay and of EPA's continued involvement in this path-breaking federal-state partnership."

Also speaking at the ceremony were governors Harry Hughes of Maryland, Dick Thornburgh of Pennsylvania, and Charles Robb of Virginia, as well as Thomas Downs, City Administrator of the District of Columbia, and David Rymer, representing the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. The speakers all renewed their commitment to the December 13, 1983 agreement on a joint effort to restoring and protecting the bay.

The agreement was the first major step toward implementing a cleanup plan based on a seven-year study of the condition of the bay.

"If we in the federal government have challenged you to invest, you have both met and exceeded that challenge in your commitment of funds and personnel," Ruckelshaus said. "Undeniably, the states and the District have assumed their rightful role of leadership in restoring the Bay."

Ruckelshaus emphasized the federal commitment by saying that the President highlighted the Chesapeake Bay renewal program in his State of the Union address last January. The Administrator said he believed the President will propose an additional $10 million for the bay next year.

"The bay is now not only a regional concern--it is a challenge to the nation," Ruckelshaus said.

In the past year, $10 million in federal funds were appropriated for the bay, in addition to sewer grants. This money is going to the states primarily for programs to control pollution from fertilizer runoff and other nonpoint sources. These funds also support a permanent, professional staff in Annapolis, Maryland, that will help plan activities in the bay area as well as coordinate the work of all the parties to the agreement. In addition to funding support, formal agreements were signed with five other federal agencies pledging cooperation and resources: the Army Corps of Engineers, Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Soil Conservation Service. The Department of Defense also agreed recently to concentrated action to protect the bay from pollution originating from military bases in the watershed.

The Administrator said that today the scientific community and private citizens were added to the partnership of state, federal and local governments. The first meetings of the newly-appointed Chesapeake Citizen Advisory Group and the Scientific and Technical Advisory Group followed the first anniversary celebration.

"The job you have undertaken is as difficult as it is vital," Ruckelshaus told the state and local officials. "In that respect, it represents public service in its highest form. There is a long road yet to travel, but you have made a great start."