Federal Affairs Office Update

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The U.S. Capitol Building

CBF Staff

From the Desk of Jason Rano

Fall/Winter 2020

Aid for the Bay’s Seafood Industry

The Federal Affairs Office has been deeply engaged in securing aid for the Bay’s struggling seafood industry, which is still reeling from the widespread closure of restaurants, seafood markets, and processing houses due to COVID-19. CBF, the Chesapeake Oyster Alliance, and our congressional partners in Congress successfully advocated for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to make shellfish aquaculture eligible for pandemic aid after it initially excluded growers from all USDA relief programs. CBF and Alliance members continue to work with the Bay delegation in Congress to increase aid to the watershed’s seafood industry in a future relief bill as the aid package enacted in March allotted less than $10 million to seafood producers in Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia.

Fighting for the Bay in Federal Court

CBF attorneys are busy fighting dangerous new Trump administration environmental rules that threaten the Bay watershed. CBF joined with Maryland-based nonprofit ShoreRivers on April 27 to sue the Environmental Protection Agency over its restrictive new definition of Waters of the United States (WOTUS). The rule canceled protections for many wetlands and streams essential to restoring the health of the Bay and its waterways by the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint’s 2025 deadline. CBF is also part of a 12-group coalition that sued the administration on May 27 for dramatically weakening clean car and fuel economy standards vital to cleaning up the watershed and protecting it from climate change. And on June 19, CBF and 22 allied organizations sued EPA for gutting the legal basis for successful limits on mercury and other toxic chemical emissions from coal- and oilfired power plants.

New Rules Undermine Environmental Magna Carta

CBF is considering all options to oppose the Trump administration’s assault on a law known as the Magna Carta of the environmental movement, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Enacted in 1970, NEPA is the only law that expressly requires the federal government to get citizen input on how major projects that require a federal permit, such as construction of a highway or dam, would affect the local environment. The new rules the White House released on July 15 undermine the law’s fundamental purposes of ensuring the government weighs the environmental consequences of major actions it approves, considers less harmful alternatives, and involves members of the public in the process. Gutting these protections will be especially harmful to low-income and minority communities that often lack the financial means and political clout to protect themselves from polluting projects.

—Jason Rano
Federal Executive Director
Chesapeake Bay Foundation

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