|This Is Not the Time to Stop
|Lee Cain of the Anacostia Watershed Society paddling on the Anacostia River. Photo by Krista Schlyer/iLCP.
Five years . . . this is how long we've had our formal federal-state Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint in place to restore the Bay—a partnership that is making incredible progress towards cleaning up the Bay. But one amendment on a funding bill in the House is poised to undermine this partnership and reverse the incredible progress states have been making.
This amendment, submitted by Congressman Bob Goodlatte from the 6th District of Virginia, would prohibit EPA from spending any funds on "backstops," the key tool that protects Bay states' work and investments in a clean Bay. How would this hurt the Blueprint? States are investing hundreds of millions of dollars in their Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint Plans. They know that if one state does not implement their plan in good faith, they jeopardize the work and investments of all other states. If this happens, EPA will take "backstop" actions by using existing authorities in the outlier state to make the needed pollution reductions. The "backstops" provide each state the certainty that all will take steps simultaneously towards a cleaner and healthier Chesapeake Bay.
We have been very concerned about this amendment because it would allow one state to break its agreement, stop implementing its plan, and jeopardize the work and investments of other states. In short, if this amendment becomes law there would be no tool to protect state investments in the extraordinary future that we have all been working towards: a vibrant Chesapeake Bay with abundant seafood, tourism, recreation, and improved quality of life.
So we have been getting the word out in watershed states and on the Hill. We have had incredible support from CBF members who have written letters to Congress and have talked to local papers and leaders in support of these "backstops." With your support behind us, we have been asking members of Congress to say NO to this amendment. Fortunately, they are listening. Representatives Hoyer, Van Hollen, Edwards, and Ruppersberger of Maryland and Representatives Scott and Beyer of Virginia rallied in opposition when the amendment was introduced on the House floor and helped highlight the impacts it would have if it were passed. And right now, the bill and thus the amendment has stalled and may never be voted on.
We will keep you posted on the amendment's fate. And we will get back to work on what we do need: increased federal support for watershed states, and particularly watershed farmers, who are on the front lines of this historic federal-state clean-up effort. Our message on the Hill? This is not the time to stop. This is the time to invest in our communities and in our farmers so we can make history!
URGENT: The Chesapeake Bay Executive Council is meeting July 23 to discuss important Bay restoration issues. Send a message right now to your governor and EPA before they meet, urging them to step up and fully commit to the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint.