(ANNAPOLIS, MD)—Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) President William C. Baker issued this statement following the passage of Congressman Goodlatte's amendment to H.R. 6147, the Interior, Environment, Financial Services, and General Government Appropriations Act, 2019. The amendment would undermine the historic federal-state Chesapeake Bay Program partnership by prohibiting the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from spending money to provide firm accountability if states fail to implement the plans each developed to restore local rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay. The final vote was 213 in favor and 202 opposed.
In the Chesapeake Bay region, Bay watershed states have been working together for over forty years to clean the Chesapeake Bay. In 2009, after several failed watershed agreements, EPA agreed to provide scientific leadership and oversight for a new clean-up plan: the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint.
Under this plan, states develop and implement their own pollution-reduction plans simultaneously and EPA tracks, publicly assesses their progress, and provides assurance that all states are fulfilling their commitments. States reaffirmed their commitment to this approach by signing the 2014 Chesapeake Bay Agreement and including this statement: "The Partnership's experience with watershed restoration and protection efforts has shown that measurable results, coupled with firm accountability, yield the most significant results."
Congressman Goodlatte's amendment would keep EPA from using any funds to provide this "firm accountability" if a state fails to meet its pollution-reduction goals set under the Blueprint. This accountability is what sets it apart from any previous federal-state Bay clean-up effort. Without it, if one state does not implement their plan in good faith, the work and investments of all other states are in jeopardy.
Mr. Baker said:
"With this amendment, the House voted to undermine the Bay states and what stands to be the greatest environmental success story of our time: Saving the Chesapeake Bay.
"The Chesapeake Bay Blueprint is a partnership among the watershed states and EPA to meet the requirements of the Clean Water Act and restore the Bay after years of failed attempts. And it's working because it has teeth that previous efforts lacked. Bay grasses are at record levels, the dead zone is getting smaller, and oysters are beginning to rebound.
"Only EPA can enforce the agreement if a state fails to meet its commitments. By suspending this authority, the Goodlatte Amendment threatens progress being made and the legacy of oysters, crabs, and clean water for future generations.
"Rejecting the Bay states wishes by gutting the Blueprint's accountability is shortsighted. CBF will work with the Bay region's Senators to ensure that the Goodlatte amendment is not included in their appropriations legislation."
Congressional Representatives voting against the amendment included:
NY—Representatives John Faso, Thomas Reed
PA—Rep. Matt Cartwright
MD—Representatives Andy Harris, Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes, Anthony Brown, John Delaney, Elijah Cummings, Jamie Raskin
VA—Representatives Rob Wittman, Scott Taylor, Robert Scott, A. Donald McEachin, Don Beyer, Barbara Comstock, Gerald Connolly
DE—Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester