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Sisyphus on the Bay: The Long Saga of Public Efforts to Clean Up the Chesapeake Bay

Sisyphus on the Bay: The Long Saga of Public Efforts to Clean Up the Chesapeake Bay


For much of the history of North America, the Chesapeake Bay was teeming with oysters, blue crabs, and hundreds of species of fish. By the end of the 20th century, however, the Bay’s aquatic life was in serious decline. Decades of pollution and population growth were having detrimental effects. Starting in 1983 and continuing over the next 40 years, the political leaders of the U.S. EPA, MD, VA, PA, and DC signed multiple agreements and provided millions of dollars to stakeholders to reverse the Bay’s decline. Although ecological indicators show the Bay has improved, hopeful gains are often accompanied by disappointing setbacks. The future of the Bay is still uncertain. The presentation will cover the highlights of the government’s efforts over the past half century to restore the health of the Bay. The presenter will pay particular attention to the mixed results of both regulatory and voluntary approaches promoted by federal and state governments over years of shifting political power.

Cosponsored by Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at George Mason University (OLLI Mason).


Michael Mason spent 33 years as a senior policy analyst and manager at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He worked in the agency’s hazardous waste, water protection, and enforcement programs. Michael has taken an active role in volunteer efforts to restore the Bay and its tributaries.

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OLLI Mason provides intellectual and cultural experiences to curious individuals. Learn more at


This program is appropriate for ages 18+. Register by clicking on the "Begin Registration" button. A Zoom link will be emailed two days before start of each program. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2024
9:40am - 11:05am
Library Branch:
Virtual Event
This is an online event. Event URL will be sent via registration email.
FCPL Event Guidelines
Registrations open at 9:40am Tuesday, July 9, 2024

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