Science tells us that nitrogen,
phosphorus, and sediment are the
systemic pollutants of the Bay and its
tributaries. The Chesapeake Clean
Water Blueprint seeks to reduce those
pollutants to sustainable levels.
It is working. Water quality is
improving, dead zones are diminishing,
and underwater grasses are at levels
not seen in 30 years.
But these are not the only pollutants
of concern. A recent decision by the
Environmental Protection Agency will
reverse a prior agency decision to
ban the use of a chemical pesticide,
chlorpyrifos, which is acutely toxic to
Bay life and has been found to cause
brain damage in children.
Dr. Thomas A. Burke, Director of Risk
Science at the Johns Hopkins School
of Public Policy, says, “By reversing
the work of EPA’s own scientists,
[EPA Administrator] Scott Pruitt is
putting the interests of pesticide
manufacturers before the health of our
children and our Bay.”
Further, the President of the American
Academy of Pediatrics, Fernando Stein,
writes in The New York Times, “This
chemical is unambiguously dangerous
and should be banned from use.”
Some are voluntarily rejecting
chlorpyrifos. Cutler Robinson, Head
Groundskeeper at the Bayville Golf
Club near CBF’s Brock Environmental
Center in Virginia Beach told me, “We
refuse to use it. It damages children’s
brains and is toxic to Bay life.”
He is convinced by evidence from
the National Institutes of Health that
calls the chemical “toxic” to birds,
“extremely toxic” to fish.
Robinson hopes that agriculture will
follow the lead of the golf industry.
“Currently, chlorpyrifos can be
applied on crops up to one day before
harvest,” Robinson says. “We’re
hoping our farmers self-regulate for
What can we do?
We live in a democracy, and while
the power of corporate lobbyists is
intense, we can fight back. If enough
voters let their elected officials in the
U.S. House and Senate know of their
outrage over the EPA decision to put
children’s brains and the environment
at risk, pressure can effectively be
brought to bear on Mr. Pruitt.
While children of all economic strata
will be affected, those whose families
are economically depressed with less
access to organic fruits and vegetables
are disproportionally at risk. In
addition to the obvious impact on these
children’s brains, the broader impact to
society to pay for long-term health care
should be of concern to all taxpayers.
Members of Congress must take action
now to protect the health of future
generations and the Bay’s critters.
Please let them know your feelings
about the delisting of chlorpyrifos as
well as your interest in maintaining
a vigorous federal-state Clean Water
Blueprint for the Bay. Go to CBF’s
website at cbf.org/dc to find your
elected officials’ contact information.
William C. Baker
CBF President Will Baker
What is Congress doing?
Senator Ben Cardin (MD) has
cosponsored a bill to prohibit
chlorpyrifos on food: Senate bill
1624—The Protect Children,
Farmers, and Farmworkers
from Nerve Agent Pesticides
Act of 2017. The restrictions on
chlorpyrifos in this bill will also
result in protections of aquatic
life in the Chesapeake Bay.
CBF supports this bill.
CBF also stands behind
another piece of legislation:
The Chesapeake Bay Farm Bill
Enhancements Act of 2017.
Introduced on November 16 by
Senator Chris Van Hollen (MD)
and with bipartisan support
from around the watershed,
the bill strengthens the Farm
Bill’s Regional Conservation
Partnership Program (RCPP)
by providing targeted funds to
areas like the Chesapeake that
face complex, multi-state water
quality challenges. It’s a triple
win—clean water, local economic
benefit, and improved bottom
line for farmers.
Find out more about these bills
and other federal clean-water
efforts at cbf.org/dc.