Growing, Growing, Gone! The Chesapeake Bay and the Myth of Endless Growth

August 2008 / Abell Reports / Environment

The once-acclaimed program to restore the Chesapeake Bay, now in its 25th year, has been a failure.

When the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conceded in 2007 that Bay cleanup would fall far short of a 2010 deadline, a one-word response said it all.

“Duh,” Roy Hoagland, a vice president of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), told The Washington Post. For three decades the Bay’s fundamental declines have barely budged, despite billions of dollars spent on cleanup efforts by the federal government and six states that share the 64,000-square-mile Chesapeake watershed.

Since 1998, the CBF, a non-profit environmental organization, has kept its own report card on Bay health, based on 13 indicators of water quality, habitat and marine life. Its goal has been a score of 40 by 2010, on a scale of 0 to100. This would return the Bay to the considerable health it enjoyed 40 to 50 years ago. In 2007, the CBF dropped its ratings a point, to 28, the range in which the Bay has stalled for years.