The Dernogalizer

July 9, 2009

Chesapeake Bay: Speake of the Devil

I have a column out today about how despite the fact that every elected official in Maryland talks about the need for saving the Chesapeake Bay, the policies we have been passing(and not passing) are contradictory.  A lot of these issues such as highway construction over mass transit and unchecked growth are interconnected with our dependency on fossil fuels and our contribution to global warming.  This is one of my harsher columns, but called for in my opinion.  Sources are at the bottom.

Chesapeake Bay: Speake of the devil


Issue date: 7/9/09

Save the Bay! No really, I mean it. Back in 1987, federal and state officials set a target to finish restoring the Chesapeake Bay by 2000, whose value 20 years ago was pegged at $678 billion by University of Maryland economists. Inflation alone would push that value over a trillion dollars. Maybe we were counting on 2000 being the end of the world, but when computers failed to take over and clean the bay themselves, we were forced to set a target of 2010. Whoops.

So now the Environmental Protection Agency and state officials, including a number from Maryland, have gotten serious. They’ve said enough is enough: It’s time to set a target to which leaders can be held accountable. The new deadline for getting the bay off the list of the nation’s most impaired waters is now 2025, with two-year milestone goals sprinkled in between. Governor Martin O’Malley boldly declared Maryland would hit its own nutrient reduction goals by 2020. 

O’Malley and every other elected official in Annapolis will tell you they’re for cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay. It’s as easy as saying you’re for fighting cancer or for education. A closer look at our own state policies provides a clue as to why despite lawmakers’ happy proclamations on behalf of the bay, it still remains in shambles.

Doesn’t anyone find it ironic that we decided to have the words “Treasure the Chesapeake” engraved on the back of license plates? License plates which happen to be attached to cars running on roads which has sediment pollution runoff that is ruining the Chesapeake. This is symbolic of our problem. Our largest expenditure to affect the bay’s health thus far consists of billions of dollars spent on the maligned InterCounty Connector. This road blows through the Anacostia Watershed, which feeds into the bay. The Maryland Department of Environment (MDE) is now considering granting a permit for the cross-county connector. This new Charles County highway would drive right through the Mattawoman Watershed, which flows into the bay.

Annapolis recently ensured we’ll continue our happy highway construction by weakening a smart growth bill this past session that would have put some teeth behind responsible development and anti-sprawl benchmarks. Poor land-use planning and highway construction have become coordinated catastrophes that make our clean-up deadline of 2025 a flatline. From his policies, it’s tough to tell whether O’Malley’s personal 2020 target is to clean up Maryland’s pollution contribution or finish the bay off once and for all. 

The policies’ harmful effects are magnified by MDE dragging its feet on enforcing stormwater management rules passed in early 2007. The Stormwater Management Act has encountered two years worth of deliberations by MDE to figure out what to do with it. This culminated in a “please?” ordinance to county governments and local municipalities to only mitigate the runoff impact of 50 percent of impervious surfaces for redevelopment projects. Half-hearted by both my math and their effort.

News flash to Annapolis and O’Malley: When you build mega-highways across waterways which connect to the bay; when you water down smart growth bills that would encourage and enforce responsible development; when you water down our stormwater management laws so our runoff continues to pollute the bay – you’re not saving the bay. You’re killing it.

Now if only we could fit that onto the back of a license plate.

Matt Dernoga is a senior government and politics major. He can be reached at

Sources: (death of smart growth bill) (blown deadline) (blown deadline) (2025 target) (value of the Bay) (O’Malley setting higher goal for Bay) (on Cross County Connector) (Stormwater management Act, to go to next page to see delays, go down to bottom and check archives) (pg 13 on stormwater management)


  1. […] Cross-Posted from: here […]

    Pingback by Chesapeake Bay: Speake of the Devil « It’s Getting Hot In Here — July 9, 2009 @ 10:58 pm | Reply

  2. […] Cross-Posted from: here […]

    Pingback by Chesapeake Bay: Speake of the Devil | CCAN Blog — July 9, 2009 @ 11:01 pm | Reply

  3. Amen, Matt. Thanks for standing up and pointing out the hypocrisy. There is no way the state of Maryland can claim to be “Saving the Chesapeake” and also (for example) approve a wetlands descruction permit to green-light a sprawl-inducing highway in exurbia.

    My solution would send a message: Confiscate and recycle the “Treasure the Chesapeake” license plates of any public officials who support the Charles County Cross County Connector and other anti-Bay projects.

    Agree? Comment at

    Comment by Tom Pelton — July 10, 2009 @ 2:16 pm | Reply

  4. The only thing the politicians care about is getting re-elected and where they’ll get their campaign contributions…

    In most cases the campaign coffers are replenished by developers and their ilk because they’re the ones with the deep pockets. Their rhetoric about “saving the Bay” is nothing but a campaign ploy, designed to sell the public on how “concerned” they are, while at the same time promoting more development.

    Currently, there are plans for 8,000 more “residential units” in the Bryans Road area, many of which will result from the CCC-X. In addition, the Waldorf area is slated for as many as 10,000 more “residential units” in the coming years. LaPlata has plans for as many as 5,000 new residences.

    Unfortunately, they make these “plans” without considering the negative impact to the environment, the additional traffic, the runoff from the new roads and residences, and the potable water supply.

    The MGS has issued numerous reports regarding the groundwater supplies in Charles County from which the county obtains almost 100% of its water, (except for about 1,4 MGD from WSSC for a small portion of the Waldorf area), Other than that, the entire county as well as St. Mary’s and Calvert counties, are dependent on groundwater supplies.

    The MGS has indicated that by 2030, Charles County may experience “difficulties” obtaining enough water to meet its expanding population. Since almost 40% of the county’s residences have private wells, they are the ones who will experience water shortages first.

    The deepest aquifer, the Patuxent, is already being tapped in some areas of the county for it’s “public” water supply – Indian Head and Bryans Road in particular. Beyond that is BEDROCK!

    But the only thing the Commissioners seem to be concerned about is the CCC-X and all the development it will attract. Just look at the Rt. 228 extension from Berry Road to Rt. 210. Thousands of new homes, and businesses remain to be built.

    This is the link that already “connects” Waldorf to Rt. 210, which MDE has cited in its January letter to the Commissioners. Yet the Commissioners continue to promote and extol the “benefits” the CCC-X will have for the County – but what the fail to mention are the “benefits” to their campaign coffers!!

    Comment by Cheryl Thomas — July 11, 2009 @ 8:08 am | Reply

    • well said!

      Comment by Matt Dernoga — July 11, 2009 @ 1:28 pm | Reply

      • Thanks!

        Not only do they fail to mention the “benefits” to their campaign coffers but they fail to mention their unwavering support for more intense development throughout the entire county – not just within the development district.

        They also fail to mention that they do NOT have to abide by the Comprehensive Plan – none are legally enforceable documents in the State of Maryland.

        The Development District in the Comprehensive Plan is rapidly expanding to the Deferred Development District. The Deferred Dev. District is expanding into the Rural/Agricultural areas – so in just another decade or two, the Development District will encompass 75% or more of the entire county!

        There are plans for seven Waterfront “Villages” one of which includes Swan Point – the others are Port Tobacco/Welcome, Nanjemoy, Aqualand, Smallwood, Benedict and Indian Head-Marshall Hall.

        None of these are within the Development District!

        Then there’s Hughesville, another rural “village” currently part of the Commissioners “plans” for more intense development, and it isn’t in the Development District either. This just proves the inadequacy of the Çomprehensive Plan…a document not worth much more than the paper it is printed on….

        Yet they continue to raise property taxes year after year, while property values decline along with the aquifers!

        Comment by Cheryl Thomas — July 11, 2009 @ 2:57 pm

  5. I went to the grocery store last week hoping to buy some soft-shelled crabs, and the fishmonger put on his gloomiest face when he told me, that he had been informed there aren’t any, and probably won’t be any more this season, because “they’re not shedding their shells thanks to all the rain”. Any idea what’s up with that?

    Comment by Gail Zawacki — July 11, 2009 @ 5:03 pm | Reply

  6. […] have some problems with Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley.  Many of his growth policies are killing the Chesapeake Bay, the ICC highway he didn’t stop is going to contribute a lot of greenhouse […]

    Pingback by Governor O’Malley’s good Op-Ed « The Dernogalizer — July 17, 2009 @ 2:01 am | Reply

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