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A Ringmaster for the Circus: Using Interstate Compacts to Create a Comprehensive Program to Restore the Chesapeake Bay

December 2008

Citation: ELR 10888

Author: Matthew L. Paeffgen

Editor's Summary: Efforts to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay began as early as the 1970s, but the agencies and organizations working on the issue lack direction, coordination, and cohesion. As a result, progress toward protecting the bay and its watershed has been slow, while the threat of interstate pollution has grown. In this Article, Matthew L. Paeffgen offers a solution to increase the effectiveness of Chesapeake Bay protection efforts: the interstate compact. Paeffgen begins by describing the state of the bay, and then discusses how the federal common law of interstate nuisance provided a remedy for interstate pollution in the past, and how subsequent judicial interpretations foreclose this option. He then reviews interstate compacts and their use to address environmental issues, as well as compacts currently operating in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. He closes with a description of how to structure a new interstate compact to focus current, scattered efforts into a cohesive movement.

Matthew L. Paeffgen works for the State's Attorney's Office in Baltimore, Maryland. He thanks Prof. Jonathan H. Adler for directing his research and offering comments on drafts.

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