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Posted at 1:30 PM ET, 09/ 3/2010

McDonnell drags his feet on the bay

By Peter Galuszka

Virginia was the only state among six to miss a Sept. 1 deadline for filing a plan to cut pollution in the Chesapeake Bay.

Doug Domenech, Virginia's secretary of natural resources, explained that Gov. Robert F. McDonnell and other top officials wanted more time to study clean-up plans, but it's just as plausible to me that the governor is dragging his feet because he dislikes regulation and disagrees with the Obama administration about ways to clean up the estuary. Environmental Protection Agency officials were reportedly still hoping to get Virginia's plan by today.

Proposed plans include requiring 95 percent of all farms and golf courses to write plans to curb nitrogen and phosphorus runoff, banning phosphorus in lawn fertilizers and instituting tougher regulations on sewage plants, stormwater runoff systems and subdivisions.

None of the proposals has been accepted, and the EPA can move ahead and write its own new rules without consulting the states if it wants to.

McDonnell has taken a go-it-alone strategy with his policies in several other areas. For instance, he shunned federal "Race to the Top" education funding because he believed that taking the money would allow the federal government to shape state education policies. His budget-cutting policies have heavily affected state schools.

As a conservative, McDonnell favors limited government and light regulation. But in the case of the bay, he's way out of step with his neighbors, who seem keen on working together to fix the bay, where pollution has created "dead zones" for aquatic life.

McDonnell can stick to his dogma. But Virginians who make a living on the bay or recreate on its waters will pay a price, as will their neighbors.

Peter Galuszka blogs at Bacon's Rebellion. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.

By Peter Galuszka  | September 3, 2010; 1:30 PM ET
Categories:  D.C., D.C. politics, HotTopic, Local blog network, Maryland, Va. Politics, Virginia, development, economy, education, environment, parks, public health, real estate, schools, wildlife  
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