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Chesapeake Bay advocates praise feds for new conservation funds | Monday Morning Coffee

The USDA will direct an additional $22.5M to help farmers with conservation efforts

May 9, 2022 7:11 am
A heron is perched on a piling at sunrise on the Chesapeake Bay in Chesapeake Beach.

A heron is perched on a piling at sunrise on the Chesapeake Bay in Chesapeake Beach (Photo by yvonnenavalaney/stock.adobe.com/Maryland Matters).

Good Monday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

Among the states that make up the sprawling Chesapeake Bay Watershed, Pennsylvania long has been viewed as the errant child, lagging behind its neighbors when it comes to shouldering its share of the environmental preservation burden.

And while there’s been some progress, agricultural runoff into the Susquehanna River, which feeds the bay, still is one of the largest contributors to that pollutants in the bay.

So you can’t blame environmental advocates and conservationists for getting a little giddy late last week with the announcement that the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture is going to pump another $22.5 million this year into helping farmers who live in the watershed adopt conservation practices aimed at improving water quality in the bay and its tributaries.

The announcement came at last week’s Chesapeake Bay Commission meeting in densely agricultural Lancaster County.

Officials said the money will come from a trio of accounts under the newly created Chesapeake Bay States’ Partnership Initiative. The new initiative will be administered, in turn, by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, the agency said in a statement.

Bird and marsh grass along the Chesapeake Bay. (Image via the Virginia Office of Natural Resources).

“Farmers in the Bay are voluntarily implementing conservation on their farms that is helping to curb sediment and nutrient loss and improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed,” Robert Bonnie, the USDA’s under secretary for Farm Production and Conservation, said in a statement. “There is still more work to be done and USDA is committed to continuing to support Bay producers and harnessing the power of partnership to ensure meaningful and lasting improvements for the future.”

The money is a “game-changer” for farmers “here in south central Pennsylvania working to reduce nutrient runoff while facing a challenging economy,” U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., said in that same statement. ” … Farmers are leading stewards of the land and have a critical understanding of the best way to protect our waterways while simultaneously improving their bottom line.”

A marina in Deltaville, which sits near the tip of Virginia’s Middle Peninsula on the Chesapeake Bay. (Sarah Vogelsong/ Virginia Mercury)

At last week’s meeting, Bonnie said the USDA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will create a new task force charged with quantifying farmers’ conservation efforts.

The new “federal Task Force on Crediting Chesapeake Bay Conservation Investments will work with the Bay states and the agriculture community over the next year to identify ways to more fully credit farmers’ conservation efforts,” the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, an environmental advocacy group, said in a Friday statement.

According to the foundation, more than 80 percent of the remaining pollution cuts the six watershed states committed to making in the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint must come from agriculture. States have until 2025 to adopt the policies and practices needed to make those cuts.

Late last month, the EPA panned Pennsylvania’s clean-up plan under the blueprint, and sent the commonwealth back to the drawing board. State officials told the Capital-Star that they’re committed to holding up their end of the bargain.

“This is an exciting juncture in our efforts to save the Bay and improve our local waters. This additional $22.5 million to help watershed farmers improve water quality in their local waters and the Chesapeake Bay is encouraging,” Alison Prost, the bay foundation’s vice president of environmental protection and restoration, said in a statement.

“We know the needs are vast, particularly in Pennsylvania. We must all do significantly more to get Pennsylvania’s farmers the financial and technical resources they need to get the job done,” Prost said, adding that the foundation is “eager to work with USDA and Congress, along with state leaders, to close these gaps by better equipping farmers to reduce pollution, improve local water quality, and ensure a heritage of sustainable agriculture for generations to come.”

(Image via pxHere.com)

Our Stuff.
In Pennsylvania, child care for two children – an infant and a four-year-old – would cost a typical family $21,614 annuallyCassie Miller reports in this week’s edition of The Numbers Racket.

Pa. lawmakers are already preparing for what a post-Roe future could look like, Justin Sweitzer, of our partners at City & State Pa. reports.

new survey highlights the inequities faced by Black women in Pittsburgh, our partners at Pittsburgh City Paper report.

In Philadelphia, LGBTQ community leaders are calling for change after a local man was allegedly killed by a bouncer at an LGTBQ-friendly nightclub, our partners at the Philly Gay News report.

On our Commentary Page this morning, opinion regular Dick Polman explains how the Dems’ inaction helped speed the demolition of Roe v. Wade. And abortion has been common in the U.S. since the 18th Century. So has the debate over itOhio State University scholar Treva B. Lindsey writes.

En la Estrella-Capital: El panel del 6 de enero le pide a tres miembros Republicanos de la Cámara de Representantes de Estados Unidos que cooperen en la investigación. Y los federales emiten una exención para las ventas de una mezcla de etanol al 15 por ciento durante la temporada de conducción de verano.

Josh Shapiro about to speak a press conference
Attorney General and 2022 Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Josh Shapiro at a press conference outside Harrisburg on March 24, 2022. (Capital-Star photo by Stephen Caruso)

Elsewhere.
Josh Shapiro is playing a dangerous game for Pennsylvania by betting on Doug Mastriano, the Inquirer’s Will Bunch writes.

A new report finds that Allegheny County ranks high for preventable hospitalizations, the Post-Gazette reports.

A $2.2 million facelift of the Governor’s Office is the capstone on a four-year effort to restore the state Capitol to its original condition, PennLive reports (paywall).

LancasterOnline ran the numbers on Audit the Vote’s Pa. canvass data — it was filled with mistakes.

Lafayette College students rallied in support of Roe v. Wade, the Morning Call reports.

Amid a rise in overdoses, state lawmakers are looking to legalize fentanyl testing strips, the Citizens’ Voice reports.

State Sen. Anthony Williams, D-Philadelphia has a primary challenger — it’s ‘insulting,’ he saysWHYY-FM reports.

A Wayne County judge has dismissed the temporary protective order filed against GOP lieutenant governor candidate Teddy Daniels, the Associated Press reports (via WITF-FM).

A Ukrainian woman shared the story of her flight from the war-torn country with the Daily Item of Sunbury.

A new Trafalgar Group poll shows GOP U.S. Senate candidates Mehmet OzKathy Barnette and Dave McCormick all within the margin of error, PoliticsPA reports.

Experts expect a rise in prosecutions if, as expected, the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. WadeStateline.org reports.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.isn’t ruling out a nationwide abortion ban if Republicans retake Congress and the White House, Talking Points Memo reports.

Here’s your #Harrisburg Instagram of the Day:

(Image via @andrewrybackphotography/Instagram.com)

What Goes On
The House and Senate are both out until May 23.
1:00 p.m., Lenfest Center, Philadelphia: House Democratic Policy Committee
1:30 p.m., SEPTA, Philadelphia: Senate Transportation Committee

WolfWatch
Gov. Tom Wolf will participate in a 12 p.m. ceremony at the Pennsylvania State Museum in Harrisburg honoring fallen law enforcement officers.

Heavy Rotation
Since we’re probably all shaking off the dust of the weekend, here’s a quiet one to start the working week. It’s ‘Liquid Love,’ from singer/songwriter Jack Botts.


Monday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link
The Boston Bruins beat the Carolina Hurricanes 5-2 on Sunday, evening their Eastern Conference playoff series at two games apiece. The series returns to Raleigh on Tuesday.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek
John L. Micek

A 3-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. An award-winning political reporter, Micek’s career has taken him from small town meetings and Chicago City Hall to Congress and the Pennsylvania Capitol. His weekly column on U.S. politics is syndicated to 800 newspapers nationwide by Cagle Syndicate. He also contributes commentary and analysis to broadcast outlets in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Micek’s first novel, “Ordinary Angels,” was released in 2019 by Sunbury Press.

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