HHopefully, Everett’s top position will speed bay cleanup

State Rep. Garth Everett, a Muncy Republican who represents much of our region in the Legislature, was elected last week as chairman of the Chesapeake Bay Commission.

The commission matters a lot in these parts, because it oversees cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay, a very necessary environmental undertaking.

The commission matters even more in Pennsylvania, because farmland is the flashpoint of the cleanup and Lancaster County alone in this state includes more farmland than Maryland and Virginia combined.

A high degree of pollution comes from agricultural use and modernized, environmentally proficient practices are needed to reduce the pollution resulting from farmland.

Everett will now be in a greater position than ever to influence needed changes in these practices.  More significantly, he will be in a key position to impact how the funding necessary to finance the cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay watershed is raised.

A ton of money is needed to pay for the cleanup and the sources, particularly at the federal level, are drying up.

Everett has advocated a small water fee on industrial businesses to raise the revenues. He thinks it could bring in $275 million a year.

And, significantly, the fee would not be one more haymaker leveled at individual taxpayers, who already get hit hard with fees and taxes from all sides with each breath they take. And let’s be real, industries are in a better financial position to pay these fees than individual taxpayers.

Everett’s fee makes the most sense because it is industrial use that is a big driver of environmental conditions that must be improved to make cleanup of the Chesapeake a reality. Industrial users, in many cases, have made improvements in recent decades, but those changes must be maintained.

We hope Everett’s position at the top of the commission will be a conduit to a practical water fee to pay for much of the cleanup and take the burden off cities, counties and states, none of whom are in a position to pay the dollars needed to complete and maintain the Chesapeake Bay watershed cleanup.