Bay Delegation Pushes for Federal Funding
Despite the president’s proposed 90 percent cut to funding for the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program, bi-partisan efforts are moving along in Congress' appropriations process to increase funding from $73 million, which has been appropriated in recent years, to more than $80 million. In fact, House members led by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD 5th District) and Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA 3rd District), John Sarbanes (D-MD 3rd District), and Robert Wittman (R-VA 1st District) spearheaded efforts this year to increase Bay Program funding to $85 million as part of Interior Department budget legislation. In the Senate, Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) has introduced a bill to increase Bay Program funding to $90 million for fiscal year 2020 and steadily increasing the funding in following years.
EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program is the glue that holds the historic federal and state Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint partnership together. Due to the effects of climate change, additional pollution loads from the Conowingo Dam, and the fast-approaching 2025 deadline for meeting the requirements of the Blueprint, the time to accelerate our efforts, including increased funding to the Bay Program, is now!
CBF is also working with members of Congress to ensure that there is adequate funding for other programs that are critical to the restoration of the Bay, including U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (ACOE) Chesapeake Bay Comprehensive Plan, ACOE construction projects for oyster restoration, the recently passed Farm Bill, Bay Watershed Education and Training, Sea Grant, and Chesapeake Gateways.
Currently Protected Waters in Danger
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) are moving ahead with a two-step plan to repeal the 2015 Clean Water Rule and replace it with a much narrower definition of "Waters of the United States" (WOTUS). The replacement proposal narrows the definition of WOTUS to exclude features that only contain water during or in response to rainfall.
This limited reading will have the greatest impact upstream and is a significant problem for Delaware, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia because they rely upon federal law for their clean-water protections. If finalized, this rule will impede the success of the wetland-restoration goals of the Chesapeake Bay Agreement. CBF opposes these efforts and is preparing comments urging EPA and ACOE to withdraw this proposal.
Stay Tuned for Offshore Drilling Plan
CBF opposes offshore drilling because a major spill off the mouth of the Bay could poison wildlife, devastate wetlands and beaches, jeopardize commercial and recreational fishing, increase dead zones, and release considerable amounts of greenhouse gasses. Instead of risking our environment, CBF favors pursuing energy efficiency and conservation now, and developing wind, solar, and other resources for the future.