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Election Lowers Expectations For Big Environmental Legislation

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Environmental groups say transformative legislation affecting the Chesapeake Bay and renewable energy in the region has become highly unlikely after the latest election results.

One early casualty of the election results may be what's known as the Chesapeake Bay Bill, sponsored by Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland. The bill would give extra enforcement authority to the EPA to make states control water pollution.

Some agricultural interests and developers call it onerous, but supporters, including the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, will try to push it through before this Congress ends.

"Our experience is that the bay is not a partisan issue and there are supporters of restoration activities in both parties," says Will Siglin, who works with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

On the subject of wind energy, any transformative federal legislation is now highly unlikely. But Chesapeake Climate Action Network's Mike Tidwell says states, particularly Maryland, may now take the lead.

"Maryland the Democratic Party has gained seats and frankly conservation leaders in the Maryland Senate especially have increased, so I think you see Maryland in 2011 being even more pro-environment general assembly," Tidwell says.

And one thing likely to survive any partisan change are earmarks, including those that would help stormwater renovation and agricultural conservation subsidies.

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