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The Environment in Focus with Tom Pelton
Although Pennsylvania farms contribute a significant amount of pollution to the Chesapeake Bay, half of the 40,000 farms in the state's part of the Bay watershed do not have pollution control plans required by law to reduce runoff of manure and soil into streams. One farmer who is doing an exemplary job of following the state's clean streams requirements is Leroy Walker, above, who recently built new manure management pits, a shed, and barn to reduce runoff pollution.
Virginia blueberry farmer Mike Drewry's life changed when a power company proposed to build a 1,500 megawatt coal-fired power plant near his family's 400 acres. He filed a lawsuit to stop the Old Dominion Electric Cooperative's proposed plant south of historic Jamestown, and found himself in the middle of a bitter fight for clean air and water.
For the first time in more than a decade, Pennsylvania this spring will close most of the Susquehanna River to fishing for smallmouth bass, whose numbers have been declining because of a mysterious disease. The closure will be hard on fishing guides like Juan Veruete (left) and Jeff Little (right), whose lives and livelihoods are caught up in the river.
Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley started a political fight by proposing legislation that would reduce suburban sprawl by limiting large developments on septic systems in some rural areas. Opponents of the bill claim it is part of O'Malley's "War on Rural Maryland," meant to strip power from local governments. But supporters say the real "War on Rural Maryland" is developers gobbling up farms for subdivisions.
Imagine if, everytime you flushed the toilet, it generated electricity. The ultimate in renewable energy systems is under construction at the largest sewage treatment plant in the Chesapeake Bay region, Blue Plains in Washington, D.C., where human waste will be pressurized and heated in reactors, creating methane that will be burned to run a generator.
Wetlands are supposed to be protected because of their value as pollution filters and breeding grounds for fish and birds. But federal and state agencies routinely approve permits for developers to destroy wetlands under the condition that they pay for the construction of artificial wetlands as replacements -- and these replacements are rarely as productive biologically as real wetlands, a new scientific study concludes.
Three years ago, Maryland and Virginia imposed restrictions on catching female blue crabs that succeeded in roughly doubling the population of the once-troubled icon of the Chesapeake Bay. But a side effect of this good news is that adult female crabs now outnumber males by about three to one, leading one researcher to question whether the imbalance could impede reproduction.
A growing number of religious organizations have been launching environmental advocacy campaigns. A recent example is the Evangelical Environmental Network's radio ads that criticize "pro-life" members of the U.S. House of Representatives for trying to derail EPA mercury pollution control regulations, which are meant to protect the unborn from brain damage caused by the toxic metal.
After a major rockfish poaching incident, Maryland Natural Resource Police are using high-tech gear, including sonar systems and tracking devices, to crack down on illegal fishing in the Chesapeake Bay. New laws also grant officers the power to impose $25,000 fines, revoke fishing licenses, and inspect the cabins of commercial fishing boats without probable cause.