Secretary: Science should dictate solutions to environmental issues

by Bill Nachman - Posted on Oct 30, 2013 - 01:37 PM

Photo: Doug Domenech, Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources, spoke Friday at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Gloucester Point. Domenech, right, talks with VIMS professor Mark Luckenbach during a reception before the seminar. Photo by Bill Nachman

Doug Domenech, Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources, spoke Friday at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Gloucester Point. Domenech, right, talks with VIMS professor Mark Luckenbach during a reception before the seminar. Photo by Bill Nachman

In approaching protection of natural resources, officials should "let the science lead us to where we go," said Doug Domenech, Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources.

Speaking during a lecture to kick off the Fall 2013 Seminar Series at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Gloucester Point, on Friday, Domenech said that science, not unsupported public opinion, should dictate what to do about sea level rise, uranium mining and other issues important to the commonwealth.

His talk, titled "It’s good to be the Secretary: The state of Virginia’s environment," touched on a wide range of topics. But one that popped up a number of times was the Chesapeake Bay. "We’re doing pretty well with the bay," he said, noting that baywide improvements have not been a short-term measure but instead present a "long-term challenge."

Pollution to the bay is being stemmed, Domenech said, and the federal total maximum daily load (TMDL) effort to reduce nitrogen, potassium and sediment is helping.

"The ag sector is troublesome," he said, pointing to cost-share funds to benefit farmers that are not made available to other industry sectors. Also, he said that groundwater monitoring is important and special wells are being set up to monitor a decline in groundwater in eastern Virginia.