Governor Bob McDonnell and President Barack Obama are at odds again, this time over the new EPA regulations attempting to lower pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. Opponents are worried the feud will lead to legal action by Virginia or a withdrawal by the Commonwealth from the 30-year old partnership with the Federal government in the effort.
Governor McDonnell's Secretary of Natural Resources Doug Domenech said a more effective strategy would be to continue approach the problem through a voluntary program designed to educate farmers on best practices and actions for cleaner farming, rather than expanding the regulatory scope of the Environmental Protection Agency. The plan adopted by President Obama would allow the EPA to impose fines and punishments on land developers and farmers. Domenech also stated the computer models the EPA is basing its plan on are flawed. New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia have also complained inconsistencies in the EPA computer models.
The Chesapeake Bay suffers from eutrophication, which is an abundance of chemicals and nutrients causing murky waters. The Bay also has high levels of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediments, which the EPA's plan specifically hopes to reduce. The three pollutants are cited as the chief culprit in the Bays low water quality, which has made it difficult for plants, fish and shellfish to thrive.
It remains clearly ultimately the two sides have the same goal in mind, a cleaner Chesapeake Bay. Better water quality would lead to increased fish and shellfish harvests, as well as farm harvests. However, the two sides are approaching the problem with far different ideas. Domenech responded to questions of why Maryland has not complained about the Obama plan saying "they're highly regulated already. But in Virginia, we have a different mentality."