USA — Military Steps Up Role in Chesapeake Bay Preservation

WASHINGTON — Mil­i­tary lead­ers pledged this week to step up efforts to help to con­trol pol­lu­tion and pre­serve the sprawl­ing Chesa­peake Bay, the Unit­ed States’ largest estu­ary and home to 68 mil­i­tary instal­la­tions.

Navy Sec­re­tary Ray Mabus and instal­la­tion com­man­ders from through­out the water­shed area met with Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency Admin­is­tra­tor Lisa Jack­son, Mary­land Gov. Mar­tin O’Mal­ley and oth­er offi­cials at the U.S. Naval Acad­e­my in Annapo­lis, Md., Aug. 25.

Mabus, the most senior defense depart­ment offi­cial at the ses­sion, called the bay restora­tion “pre-emi­nent­ly a team effort,” and said every mil­i­tary facil­i­ty along the water­shed has an oblig­a­tion to “do the things that make a dif­fer­ence, long-term, in the Chesa­peake.”

The Defense Depart­ment is a major landown­er along the 64,000-square-mile bay water­shed, which includes Naval Sta­tion Nor­folk, Va.; Naval Air Sta­tion Patux­ent Riv­er, Md.; the U.S. Naval Acad­e­my; and Aberdeen Prov­ing Ground, Md.

Mabus not­ed that every mil­i­tary ser­vice has a pres­ence on the bay, and an oblig­a­tion to pre­serve it.

“We all rec­og­nize that what hap­pens to the Chesa­peake Bay is not just a con­cern of the peo­ple of the Chesa­peake Bay,” he told the con­fer­ence atten­dees. “It affects our entire coun­try.”

He out­lined exten­sive mil­i­tary envi­ron­men­tal projects each of the 68 facil­i­ties already has under way. These include stricter, envi­ron­men­tal­ly friend­ly build­ing stan­dards, upgrades to sewage treat­ment plants, and increased use of elec­tric and hybrid vehi­cles to cut nitro­gen emis­sions and porous pave­ments to con­trol stormwa­ter runoff.

Mabus pledged that the mil­i­tary will con­tin­ue to work with local, state and fed­er­al offi­cials to build on these efforts.

“It’s part of our respon­si­bil­i­ty to make sure that we pass on this envi­ron­ment to our chil­dren, to our grand­chil­dren and to this coun­try in a bet­ter way than we found it,” he said. Speak­ing for the EPA, Jack­son said mil­i­tary mem­bers rec­og­nize this oblig­a­tion.

“I think the men and women of our armed forces under­stand that their duty to pro­tect our coun­try goes beyond weapons,” she told the group. “It goes to the resources that are our country[’s respon­si­bil­i­ty] to safe­guard and pro­tect.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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