Gov. Parris N. Glendening called off the meeting yesterday to ratify a new agreement to clean up the Chesapeake Bay after Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore III canceled.
The two were to have joined delegations from Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia, and Carol M. Browner, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, at the Aspen Institute in Wye to put the finishing touches on the renewed Chesapeake Bay agreement and release it today.
The document is the first wholesale re-evaluation of the 1987 agreement, which established a framework for restoring and protecting the bay. Called "Chesapeake 2000," it lays out the blueprint for the restoration effort over the next 10 years.
Glendening, chairman of the executive council, told Gilmore in a letter yesterday that he had canceled the meeting because it "appears unwise to go forward without your personal involvement."
A draft of the agreement will be released today at Arlington Echo Outdoor Education Center in Millersville for public comment, including a note that Virginia is uncomfortable with a requirement to reduce by 30 percent the rate at which forests and farms are being converted for development, Glendening wrote.
The agreement "includes specifics on reducing sprawl and protecting open space, which are strongly supported by five of the six leaders of the council," Glendening said in a statement issued late yesterday.
Gilmore, who has been at odds with fellow members of the Chesapeake Executive Council over land use, air pollution and transit issues, had sent word late Monday that he would not attend the meeting. Instead, he would send his secretaries of natural resources, environmental quality, and conservation and recreation.
Mark Miner, the Virginia governor's spokesman, said Gilmore "was never committed" to attending the meeting and is "in the midst of budget preparations."
"The governor is committed to cleaning up the bay," Miner said. "That's why he's sending his top environmental people."
Bill Matuszeski, head of the EPA's Chesapeake Bay Program, played down any conflict between Glendening and Gilmore.
"This was almost predictable," he said. "There have been a number of people who began saying two weeks ago why do you need a two-day meeting when we only have these issues to resolve."
The agreement also includes goals for restoring fish passage, increasing the oyster population tenfold and controlling sediment.
"It's a very strong agreement," said Ann Swanson, chairwoman of the Chesapeake Bay Commission and of the drafting committee. "It addresses issues that are vital to the bay. It's not as strong as it should be, but past agreements weren't either, but they propelled us forward."
The agreement will be available for public comment through March and will be voted on in June.