CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Why is West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey trying to stop the clean up of the Chesapeake Bay?
In the midst of the West Virginia "Aquapocalypse," Morrisey quietly filed a brief in a U.S. Court of Appeals against the EPA who had established requirements under the Clean Water Act for maximum levels of nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment that impact the Chesapeake Bay. Unsurprisingly, the AG did not do a press release like he usually does when he challenges the "overreaching EPA that is killing jobs."
In this case, it is the AG himself who is overreaching into other states -- by opposing the Bay cleanup and hence supporting killing jobs in the fishing, water recreation, and tourism industries in our region.
Unbelievable. Just unbelievable
Four decades ago, the Chesapeake Bay was one of the first identified marine dead zones in the world. A marine dead zone is where the oxygen gets depleted because of runoff in the watershed. It kills marine life. Between 1973 and 1983, the population of the delectable Chesapeake Bay rockfish plummeted from a harvest of about 6 million pounds to 0.4 million pounds per year. The rockfish almost became extinct. As a result of Chesapeake Bay's own "Aquapocalypse," Congress passed the Emergency Striped Bass Act of 1979.
In this region, we have spent the last three decades cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay, which is a national treasure. These efforts in cleaning up the Bay are a model for preserving both the environment AND the fishing industry. Thanks to these efforts, we can now eat rockfish again, but the Bay is still not completely healthy yet.
The rockfish population is still about half of what it should be. The oyster industry went to the brink of extinction, having declined from about 4 million bushels harvested annually in the late 1950s, to about 0.02 million bushels annually in 1995-2005. (That is 200 times less than its historical average!). Fortunately, it has rebounded a bit to 0.4 million bushels annually. That is still only 10 percent of its historical levels.