February 14, 2011
CBF Issues Statement on the House and Administration's Budget Proposals' Impact on Clean Water
|Photo courtesy DC WASA
Federal assistance to the Blue Plains wastewater treatment plant in Washington, D.C. (above)—the largest wastewater treatment plant in the Chesapeake—would be cut by 50 percent in the budget proposed by the House Appropriations Committee. This is just one of many cuts that would critically set back water pollution reduction efforts in the Bay region.
Among the federal clean-water programs CBF believes are especially important for continued progress are:
- EPA's Clean Water State Revolving Fund. Under this program, each state maintains a revolving loan fund to provide low-cost financing for a wide range of water quality infrastructure projects, including: municipal wastewater treatment, non-point source, watershed protection and restoration, and estuary management.
- The Chesapeake Bay Program, the regional partnership established in 1983 to direct restoration efforts for the Bay.
- The US Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service's Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative and Conservation Technical Assistance programs, which provide assistance to landowners and farmers for implementing voluntary efforts to reduce erosion, improve soil and water quality, and more.
(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) President William C. Baker issued this statement concerning the impact of the House and Obama Administration proposed budgets on clean water in the Chesapeake Bay region:
"The House Appropriations Committee and the Obama Administration have released starkly different budget proposals regarding clean water in the Chesapeake Bay region. The House proposal would make devastating cuts to clean water programs, while the Administration's budget honors the federal commitment to achieve pollution reduction goals, and is an extraordinary commitment in these tough budget times. CBF urges the Senate to reject the House cuts, support funding the President's budget, and work to restore funding the State Revolving Fund, one of the few tools that help cities and towns reduce pollution."
Six weeks ago, the Environmental Protection Agency, six states, and the District of Columbia ushered in a new era of cooperation and ended years of stalling when they released detailed plans to reduce Chesapeake Bay pollution to restore water quality over the next 15 years. Meeting those science-based and legally-required goals is going to require significant and sometimes costly effort from citizens, towns, cities, and states.
This year's Chesapeake Bay Foundation State of the Bay report suggests that pollution-cutting measures that have been taken in past years are beginning to show results. On a scale of 100, the Bay's overall score jumped three points to 31 on a theoretical scale of zero to 100. This year's gains were the largest in the history of our report. The detailed plans released at the end of 2010 have the potential to achieve much more progress towards the goal of a saved Bay if everyone does his part.
Citizens and state and local governments are stepping up to do their part; Congress must as well. Whether delivered to cities and towns, rural areas, or individual landowners and farmers, the federal government's assistance is critical to meeting the ambitious pollution reduction goals.
The House Appropriations Committee envisions cuts for the remainder of fiscal year 2011 that would significantly set back those efforts.
- A 20 percent cutback in the current Chesapeake Bay Program budget,
- a 67 percent cut to the current Clean Water State Revolving Fund that assists cities and towns in reducing pollution,
- a 50 percent cut for Blue Plains (the Chesapeake's largest wastewater treatment facility),
- an 11 percent cut in technical conservation assistance to farmers,
- and many other reductions take us in the wrong direction.
Furthermore, they place additional burdens on cities and towns and on individual rate-payers to fund pollution reduction programs.
On the other hand, President Obama's fiscal year 2012 budget, which was released today, attempts to uphold the President's commitment to clean water in a budget-cutting environment. The centerpiece of the restoration efforts—the Chesapeake Bay Program—is increased 35 percent over current levels, while other programs also show increases or modest decreases.
Poll after poll shows that the public is concerned about creating jobs and keeping the economy strong. Efforts to restore clean water create jobs for engineers, construction workers, agricultural technical assistance providers, farmers, and many others, and are fundamental to the long-term health of this region.
Below are several federal programs that the Chesapeake Bay Foundation believes are especially important for continued clean water restoration progress.
|EPA Chesapeake Bay Program
|NRCS Chesapeake Bay watershed initiative specifically
||Not specifically cited
||$50 million (consistent with 2008 farm bill authorization)
|EPA Clean Water State Revolving Fund (national, of which a formula share goes to Chesapeake Bay states)
|D.C. Blue Plains wastewater treatment plant
|Conservation Technical Assistance (national, of which a formula share goes to Chesapeake Bay states)
||$694 million (extrapolated)
|Conservation programs (national, of which a formula share goes to the Chesapeake Bay states)
||Not specifically cited
Urge Congress to protect the progress we've made cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay and our local waterways through these and other programs. Send a message to your representatives today!