More than 25 years since the Chesapeake Bay Agreement of December 1983 created a region-wide partnership "to improve and protect the water quality and living resources of the Chesapeake Bay," the bay's water quality has not improved, and communities that rely on a clean, sustainable bay are paying a high price for the lack of progress.
Pollution is a major cause of the bay's problems. Fertilizer-laden runoff from farms and lawns, as well as discharge from sewage treatment plants, flows into the bay. This fuels algae blooms, using up oxygen in the water and creating unnaturally large dead zones—areas where dissolved oxygen levels in the water are so low aquatic creatures flee or die. Sediment from farms, roads, and construction sites further pollutes the bay.
Transportation is responsible for more than two-thirds of our nation's oil consumption and nearly a third of our carbon dioxide emissions. To make us more energy independent and reduce pollution, we need to build a transportation system that uses less oil, takes advantage of alternative fuels, and shifts as much of our travel as possible from transportation modes that consume a lot of energy to those that consume less.
America is at an energy crossroad. As a nation, we are dependent on fossil fuels at a time of growing demand and dwindling supply. Meanwhile, fossil fuel use continues to impose massive environmental and economic costs. Now our country must choose between paying to continue the status quo and investing in a new energy future.
America is the largest consumer of energy in the world. The majority of this energy is derived from dirty, polluting sources such as coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear power. Our consumption of these fuels exacerbates global warming, keeps us dependent upon oil and other fossil fuels, and undermines our economy. 40 percent of America’s energy—ten percent of all the energy used in the world—goes towards powering our buildings.
For nearly two decades Maryland jurisdictions – counties, cities and towns – have worked together to balance growth and preservation through one unifying benchmark: the locally-devised comprehensive plan. The state’s nationally renowned planning regulations since 1992 have required such plans to adhere to eight visions that, at their core, call for developing “suitable areas” while protecting sensitive sites. Each area’s plan may be vastly different based on geography and demographics, but they all must follow the general tenets of preserving the state’s rural character by steering new development to existing population centers and areas earmarked to accommodate growth.