et me tell you a story. The year was
1982, and the new Virginia Governor,
Chuck Robb, came to Maryland to
campaign for Maryland Governor Harry
Hughes who was running for his second
term. They emerged from their private
meeting to address a packed press conference. I had just been named CBF’s
President, and I was anxious to hear them.
Governor Robb stated that if Governor
Hughes were reelected, the two of them
would work together to “Save the Bay.”
While hard to believe today, at that time, it
was a stunning admission that the Bay even
needed saving. It
was the first time I
had heard a senior
elected official use
the term, which
CBF had branded
as our motto over
15 years before.
Just a few years
official had categorized the term as insulting to the region. How times have changed.
But the story doesn’t end here.
Governor Hughes was reelected, and the
following year, the two governors, with
Pennsylvania Governor Dick Thornburgh,
held the first tri-state conference on the
Chesapeake Bay. At the end of the confer-
ence, they presented their Bay agendas. It
was a show of remarkable unity. Governor
Robb, as host, went last. He made many
promises. But then came the financial com-
mitment. He would put five million dol-
lars into his budget earmarked for the Bay.
Five million dollars to address the most
challenging water quality issue of the
Commonwealth? It was hard to believe that
And it was a precursor to decades of
political promises, without the substance
to deliver. CBF incurred the wrath of his
staff by our critical comments, covered
extensively in the press.
We weren’t about to give up. We went to
work, lobbying Virginia’s General
Assembly for an increased allocation.
When the final votes were cast, the legisla-
ture had more
request. It was still
enough for us to
claim, “A good
The advocacy CBF
put forward in
Elected and appointed officials at the local,
state, and federal levels have been promis-
ing Bay saving for decades, and some
notable achievements have been recorded.
But the promises to reduce pollution to
levels that science says are acceptable have
still not been met.
State and federal officials met again this
July for the annual meeting of the
Chesapeake Bay Executive Council. We
heard a lot of self-congratulating praise for
what has been achieved, as well as a frank
admission that the hard work continues to
lie ahead. And we heard more promises.
Pennsylvania Secretary of the Department
of Environmental Protection John
Quigley, who stood in for Governor Tom
Wolf, stated, “Past efforts have indeed
Many of the Executive Council members
will still be in office in 2017 when the next
major deadline for reaching pollution
reduction must be met. Governor Wolf,
current Executive Council Chairman
Governor McAuliffe, and Governor Hogan
will be responsible for their states’ success-es, or failures.
CBF refuses to sugarcoat the truth. We will
respectfully keep the pressure on, with
honesty and science-based facts. We will
use every tool possible to hold the states
and the federal government accountable.
And that is our promise to you.
William C. Baker
Hopes and Dreams
CBF President Will Baker
The promises to reduce
pollution to levels that
science says are acceptable
have still not been met.