Thursday 24 January 2019

Waterkeepers Chesapeake Asks MDE to Take Closer Look at Polluted Rivers in Maryland

Comments Issued on 2016 Report of Surface Water Quality  

Waterkeepers Chesapeake, along with nine independent Riverkeeper organizations, asked the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) to look at a number of river and stream segments in the state to assess and quantify the level of pollution associated with each waterway. Each of the rivers and streams included in the MDE report, “Maryland’s Draft 2016 Integrated Report of Surface Water Quality” had previously been isolated as needing coverage under the Bay TMDL, or Total Maximum Daily Load, the so-called “pollution diet,” a blueprint for cleaning the Chesapeake Bay.

In previous years, some of the segments were listed as Category 5, the most impaired waterways. Under provisions of the Clean Water Act, these river and streams should have been assigned a TMDL for cleanup. The list includes Miles River, Jones Falls, Gwynns Falls, Gunpowder River, Chester River, Potomac River, Susquehanna River, West River, Pocomoke River, Wicomico River, Choptank River, Middle River, Back River, Patapsco River, Baltimore Harbor, Magothy River, Severn River, South River, West River, Patuxent River, St. Mary’s River, Mattawoman Creek, Piscataway Creek, Anacostia River, Monocacy River, Youghiogheny River and a few others. 

In addition, MDE has not followed up on river segments listed as Category 3 (insufficient information on water quality standards) and Category 4 (impaired or threatened).

Betsy Nicholas, Executive Director of Waterkeepers Chesapeake, said “we need to know that MDE is taking the cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay seriously. Some of these rivers serve residents as the source of drinking water, while nearly all flow into the Bay. Impairment of any stream segment is a serious threat to clean water.”  

For more information or to receive copies of the comments, contact Mitchelle Stephenson, Waterkeepers Chesapeake (Mitchelle *at*

We need your help! The current moratorium on fracking will expire October 2017. The time is now to pass a ban on fracking during the 2017 Maryland legislative session.

Send an email today to demand a ban on fracking to protect our water, air and people.

A growing body of peer-reviewed evidence finds that fracking simply cannot be done without risk to public health and the environment—and that regulations are not capable of preventing harm.

No state has developed and enforced regulations protective enough of the environment and public health to warrant allowing it. In fact, Maryland’s proposed regulations are remarkably weak and would put our drinking water, air and health in danger. Rather than use the time during the moratorium to conduct a thorough risk assessment of fracking, Governor Hogan’s administration instead issued proposed changes to draft regulations written during Governor O’Malley’s tenure that would further weaken, not strengthen state fracking rules.

Send an email today to demand a ban on fracking!

While Garrett and Allegany counties would be immediately and disproportionately burdened if fracking proceeds, the long-term impacts would be felt across Maryland. Federal approval of the Cove Point natural gas export terminal will spur development of natural gas pipelines and compressor stations across the state, resulting in additional air and water impacts

Sustainable jobs from tourism and agriculture, as well as from future economic development and green jobs, could be lost due to the industrialization that accompanies drilling and fracking. While the oil and gas industry seeks to profit from selling Maryland's gas, we would be the ones left with the legacy of pollution.

Governor Hogan and the gas industry want to start fracking as soon as the current two-year moratorium expires. If the industry succeeds, generations of Marylanders would pay the environmental and public health costs.

Our current two-year moratorium was a great start, but we need a statewide fracking ban to safeguard Maryland's long-term future. Please send an email to support a ban on fracking to protect the health and environment of Maryland residents.


Join us on March 2nd for the March on Annapolis to Ban Fracking Now! RSVP & sign up for bus ride here!

Make a donation to support our efforts to ban fracking!

On January 5, 2017, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would require congressional approval on all major regulations.  Any major regulation that does not get the approval of Congress and the President after 90 days will effectively die.

This is just one of the many “regulatory reform” bills currently before the U.S. Congress. The package of reform bills, taken together, could seriously undermine the current regulatory process – leaving the public and the environment less protected, while opening the doors for the political system to be subject to more abuse by those with political and economic power.

Another reform bill – the Midnight Rules Relief Act – also passed the House in the first week of January.  If enacted, this bill would enable Congress to swiftly undo groups of finalized regulations without any consideration for the merits of each regulation.  Any group of regulations passed during the last few months in office by a president will be subject to this law. GOP leaders said that their top targets will be President Obama’s rule to decrease the environmental impact of coal mining on nearby streams and his rule to reduce methane emissions.

The most sweeping regulatory reform bill – the Regulatory Accountability Act of 2017 – will have a dramatic impact on the way federal agencies implement new regulations.  This omnibus bill imposes more than 60 new analytical requirements for agencies that are already subject to a robust system of vetting for every new regulation.  The bill, among other things, would require agencies to supply exaggerated justification for proposed regulations, add in more checkpoints for parties to delay the whole rulemaking process through evidentiary hearings, expand the scope of judicial review, and override the Supreme Court’s longstanding principle of judicial deference to agencies’ statutory interpretations.

With expanded ability to sue the agency, the bill also stipulates that no “high-impact rule” will take effect until all judicial challenges to the rule are resolved. With the typical amount of time courts take to resolve these types of lawsuits, this effectively will delay the implementation of such rules for several years.

The impact of all these new provisions, taken together, will severely impede the ability of federal agencies to promulgate new regulations.  It’s not surprising that some are calling into question the constitutionality of the bill.

Waterkeepers Chesapeake are following these bills. We will make sure to keep you posted as the bills move through Congress.