Legislator takes the reigns of Chesapeake Bay Commission

State Rep. Garth Everett, R-Muncy, has been elected chairman of the Chesapeake Bay Commission, and plans to focus its efforts on the Susquehanna River.

“As chairman you can slightly change the focus of the things that we are looking at,” Everett said. “We’re going to focus on the Susquehanna.”

The commission chairmanship position is a rotating term that passes between Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia, according to Everett. Prior to this Everett was the chairman of the Pennsylvania delegation, and was then elected to be chairman of the entire commission on Friday.

Created in 1980, the commission is a legislative body that works to decrease pollution into the Chesapeake Bay, which sees its largest contribution of pollution from Pennsylvania and the Susquehanna River.

One of the commission’s largest hurdles is to garner support from local residents as well as members of the Legislature. While a recent report showed that the bay is improving its water quality, Everett said Pennsylvania still is far behind on implementing best management practices to reduce pollution into the Susquehanna.

“We all understand that Pennsylvania is the biggest issue in getting the bay as a whole where it needs to be,” Everett said.

One way to bring in financial support could be through a water fee for industrial use, according to Everett. He has advocated for a small water fee, only on industrial business, saying it could bring in at least $275 million per year.

Everett stressed that the fee would not be on individual residents, but it would be vital to moving Pennsylvania in the right direction. He added that as federal funds continue to diminish it is up to the states to raise the money.

“We’re going to have to work very hard to convince our colleagues (in the Legislature) that there is a problem and we need to do something about it,” Everett said.

Additionally, the commission will need to work with farmers in Pennsylvania, as a high degree of pollution comes from agricultural use, according to Everett.

“We have more farms in Lancaster County than in Maryland and Virginia together,” he said. The commission hopes to work with farmers and help them implement best management practices in the hope that the Environmental Protection Agency will not take over with regulations that may hurt local farmers.

Everett will be chairman of the commission for one year.


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