The 2010 Logical Backflip Award Goes to Virginia for “Massive New Unfunded Mandate”

Yup, the state invoked the magic words today in its not-so-final Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) on the Chesapeake Bay cleanup. Reducing our own pollution is not our responsibility; it’s a “massive new unfunded mandate.”

That claim by the Secretary of Natural Resources is 0-for-4.

It certainly ain’t “new.”  Since 1983, state officials have promised to reduce pollution flowing into the bay, and meet the Clean Water Act standards. One governor promised to complete the task by 2000, then another promised to meet a 2010 deadline.

Based on a court order, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is now requiring states to put best management practices into place by 2025. Even in 2025 (42 years after the first Chesapeake Bay Agreement), the bay won’t meet water quality standards.  If we take certain actions over the next 15 years, however, the water may become safe for fishing and swimming and aquatic life – sometime later.

If state/local officials had chosen to steer development away from forested areas and creeks over the last 20 years, the “massive” and “unfunded” adjectives would not be appropriate either.  What’s the opposite of slow, gradual, incremental improvement?  Massive, and unfunded… because we did so little, for so long.  Virginia has treated its responsibility to clean up the bay the way Congress has treated its responsibility to balance the budget – tomorrow, we’ll start the diet.  (Oh, 20 years of repeated behavior did not create a different result?  Gee, that makes this a crisis!  Time to allocate blame to others and call for a Federal bailout.)

As for “mandate” – when did cleaning up our own pollution become the responsibility of the Federal government?   It requires a strange sense of accountability to claim that pollution generated in Virginia is not Virginia’s responsibility to correct.  Maybe we can blame it on Kim Jong-il, or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?  We gotta send the cleanup bill to someone else, right?  Hmm, who else might we blame…

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1 comment so far

  1. Mom on

    Just read the settlement Beazer Homes reached with EPA on stormwater violations, what a shock, two of the eight Virginia sites are in PWC, both in the western part of the county. Way to go staff, nice review and oversight.


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