SBC News

Champion for Virginia's Natural Resources to Speak at Sweet Briar's Waxter Forum
September 25, 2006

The Chesapeake Bay is, quite literally, both near and dear to W. Tayloe Murphy Jr. Growing up on its shores influenced his agenda in the Virginia House of Delegates, where he represented the Northern Neck for 18 years.

His record on environmental issues in the legislature earned him an appointment in then-Gov. Mark Warner's administration as the secretary of natural resources from 2002 to 2006.

Murphy will present this year's Julia B. Waxter Environmental Forum at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12 at Sweet Briar College. The forum will be held in Patio Room A-B at the Florence Elston Inn Conference Center on campus. It is free and open to the public.

Murphy will speak on what he sees as the most important principles of environmental protection. They are universally applicable to all environmental issues, he says, but he will talk about them in the context of the Chesapeake Bay. Observing its declining health has deeply affected him.

"I'm 73 years old and what I have watched happen to the Bay and the Rappahannock and Potomac rivers and the creeks -- it's just heartbreaking to see how bad it is," Murphy said. "You can't have been born and raised in an area like the Northern Neck and know what it used to be like in terms of abundant fisheries, and crabs and oysters and finfish -- just hugely abundant resources -- and to see how it's all dwindled. You'll hear about that in the speech."

Murphy also will discuss nitrogen and phosphorus pollution, which he says is a chief cause of water quality degradation. During his tenure as secretary of natural resources, the state adopted new regulations that place nutrient limits in wastewater treatment permits.

"Prior to those regulations, sewage treatment plants that hold discharge permits from the state were not required to limit the amount of phosphorous and nitrogen that they discharged," he said. "It's a significant water quality initiative and I think I'm most proud of that."

Although officially retired, Murphy still practices law from his Richmond County office. He also consults and provides pro bono work for clients fighting for natural resource conservation and historic preservation.

He is a trustee on the boards of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities. He and his wife, 1956 SBC graduate Helen Turner Murphy, live on a farm in Westmoreland County.

Sweet Briar's Waxter Forum is funded by Julia Baldwin Waxter, an SBC alumna, and her husband, Bill. The series presents lectures focusing on environmental issues and concerns that affect today's world.

For more information, e-mail or call 381-6483.

- By Jennifer McManamay, SBC staff writer