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Chesapeake Bay Agreement
May 27, 2009

Hello and welcome to “At The Center”.

In 2000, Pennsylvania officials joined officials from surrounding states and signed the Chesapeake Bay Agreement, a contract that was intended to put steps in place that would clean-up the Bay by the year 2010.

At its core, the agreement calls for reducing nutrient and sediment loads going into the Bay tributaries. A worthy goal to be sure and since the signing of the Agreement almost a decade ago, the state has been working with local governments, farmers and businesses to improve water quality on a voluntary basis. It should come as no surprise that many of these farms and businesses are in Lancaster County which has been recognized as a major contributor to the plight of the Bay.

However, as we rapidly get closer to the agreement deadline of 2010, it has become clear that the goals will not be met, requiring the Environmental Protection Agency to mandate a cap on the amount of nutrient “point-sources” that can be released into Bay-tributaries. These point-sources include wastewater treatment plants, storm water drainage, power plants, new development and, of course, farms.

Make no mistake about it, we must do all we can to clean-up this significant natural resource and failure is simply not an option, yet these mandated caps as currently prescribed have huge implications on businesses and industry in Lancaster County. If a developer can’t build, if a commercial business can’t expand and if a farmer can’t farm, all because of the caps, all economic development could come to a screeching halt. Literally, a screeching halt.

While the restrictive caps are a problem, the issue is compounded even further by some of the lack of accepted science surrounding the ways to measure “point-sources.” Rain, for instance, is a contributing source although how to effectively measure it has yet to be determined.

The Chamber and our partner organizations are working with stakeholders, elected officials, EPA and DEP to determine how we can best meet the pending requirements while still maintaining a viable business community. In some regards, it could be argued we are ten years too late, with our collective sense of urgency; however, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be doing all we can right now to clean the Bay while enabling business and industry to continue.

Take some time to learn more about this issue. It has the potential to impact your business more than you might initially have thought. For additional information contact David Greineder, Advocacy Director for The Lancaster Chamber, or check out our website at www.lancasterchamber.com.

Until next time, stay informed, stay engaged and stay with us At the Center.

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