Md. won’t fund Pennsylvania’s clean water goals for Bay, Hogan says

A week after Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan complained to the Environmental Protection Agency that Pennsylvania was lagging behind in meeting clean water goals, he told reporters there’s no “tiff” between the two states.

But Hogan, who chairs the Chesapeake Executive Council, said at the body’s meeting Thursday in Oxon Hill that Maryland would not fund Pennsylvania’s efforts to reach clean water benchmarks.

“We’ve invested $5 billion in cleaning the Bay, and we’re not going to be able to handle the sewage problems in Pennsylvania.”

The governors of five other states — Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, New York and Delaware — are also on the council.

Pennsylvania has been a focus of concern over the amount of agricultural runoff that washes into the Susquehanna River, which is part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. While Hogan called Pennsylvania “a good neighbor” and said he’s confident the situation could be resolved, Will Baker, president of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, was more critical.

“Pennsylvania has to be more vigorous in using its own funds” to reach clean water goals, Baker said. “They have a self-identified $320 million annual gap — that there is no identified funding to help farmers reduce pollution.”

But programs that Pennsylvania has enacted aren’t given the credit they deserve toward meeting clean water goals, said Patrick McDonnell of the state’s Department of Environmental Protection: “We haven’t just sat around a table writing things out. It’s really been about engagement with our farmers, engagement with our community about what’s been effective.”

In response to the letter Hogan sent last week to the EPA, an official with Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s office said the state would “gladly accept” any money Maryland wanted to contribute to its efforts. Neither McDonnell nor Hogan mentioned that exchange during the council’s Thursday meeting.

McDonnell did say that the state would look for additional funding, including from the EPA. Andrew Wheeler, EPA administrator, didn’t comment on the issue at Thursday’s meeting.

WTOP’s Kate Ryan reported from Oxon Hill, Maryland.

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