Federal Update

Fall 2017

Tell Congress to Protect and Fund the Chesapeake Bay Program

It's been a long nine months for everyone on our federal team, but we are finally closing in on the December deadline for Congress to decide the fate of the Chesapeake Bay Program—the historic federal-state partnership that is the hallmark of what could become the most successful estuary restoration effort in the world. Unless it gets stopped in its tracks.

In May, when the Administration proposed eliminating this program, we were shocked. Across the watershed, CBF staff and members started advocating for Congress not only to save this program, but to fully fund it at $73 million.

Why should Congress support the Bay Program? Is it because every dollar invested by Chesapeake Bay Program grants for clean water is nearly doubled by matching funds from local organizations? Or because the Program brings together hundreds of scientists and policy experts from universities and state agencies across the watershed to work tirelessly together to plan, track, and report on the hundreds of activities and tasks that are necessary to achieve the many goals and objectives they are pursuing? Or because it's important for the federal government to support the states and the 2014 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement, a historic voluntary agreement signed by every state in the watershed? Or perhaps for the simple reason that it is working.

To help answer that question, we brought volunteers to Washington, D.C., to tell their Members of Congress why the Program is important to their state and community. They told stories and showed pictures of the incredible improvements they are seeing in local waterways. And they heard, “I am with you!” from many, including Congressman Scott Taylor (R-VA) who sits on the powerful House Appropriations committee. 

Deeply concerned, the entire Maryland delegation, led by Senators Cardin and Van Hollen, invited CBF President Will Baker to meet with them in June to discuss the Program and what could be lost if it disappeared. Senator Cardin has introduced a bill to preserve the Program and Senator Van Hollen pledged to lead the fight for funding in the Senate Appropriations Committee. 

In September, we brought Congress members and staff on the Potomac River so they could experience firsthand how beautiful—and fragile—our recovering waterways are.

Now that we're heading into December, the deadline to pass a funding bill is close at hand. While we can't know the fate of the Chesapeake Bay Program, we do know that our Members of Congress hold the key to whether it stays or goes. Contact them today and urge them to support full funding for the Chesapeake Bay Program before it's too late.

—Alix Murdoch
Federal Policy Director
Chesapeake Bay Foundation

P.S. Senator Van Hollen has recently introduced a CBF-supported bill that has the potential to greatly help Bay farmers. Please consider thanking Senator Van Hollen and other Bay leaders who support the Chesapeake Bay Farm Bill Enhancements Act of 2017.

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