Federal Affairs Office Update

AllisonColden at hearing LisaCaruso 1171x593

Lisa Caruso/CBF Staff

From the Desk of Keisha Sedlacek

Winter 2023

CBF Expert Testifies Before Congress

CBF Maryland Executive Director Allison Colden testified before a subcommittee of the House Natural Resources Committee in October in favor of legislation to support the critical scientific and educational work of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Chesapeake Bay Office. The bipartisan bill, called the Chesapeake Bay Science, Education, and Ecosystem Enhancement (SEEE) Act, would ensure that the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office continues to play its essential role in the federal and state partnership to restore habitat, enhance ecosystem functions, and reduce water pollution in the Bay watershed.

The SEEE Act would also extend authority for the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) program, which NOAA's Chesapeake Bay Office runs. B-WET gives students and teachers the chance to learn through hands-on scientific inquiry about the environmental challenges facing the Bay.

The SEEE Act was introduced in the House by Representatives John Sarbanes (D-MD), Bobby Scott (D-VA), Rob Wittman (R-VA), and Jen Kiggans (R-VA). The Natural Resources Committee later approved the bill for consideration on the House floor. Companion legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Bob Casey (D-PA), John Fetterman (D-PA), and Joe Manchin (D-WV).

CBF Advises Administration on Valuing Nature

CBF submitted comments supporting the Biden administration's effort to help federal agencies consider the value of healthy ecosystems when analyzing the costs and benefits of new regulations. Thriving ecosystems provide many benefits, such as clean water for productive fisheries and healthy wetlands that filter water pollution and absorb storm surges and flooding. The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is drafting guidelines to improve how federal agencies evaluate these ecosystem services in the rulemaking process.

Drawing on the expertise of CBF scientists, the comments called for OMB to expand the guidelines' scope to cover other government decisions besides regulations. CBF applauded the draft guidelines for directing agencies to consider how government actions affect ecosystem services for historically underserved communities and how to prevent further harm to those already overburdened by multiple sources of pollution. CBF also suggested specific analytical tools federal agencies could use to quantify or monetize certain ecosystem services.

Advocacy Training Launched in DC

The Federal Office successfully launched CBF's adult education and advocacy training course in the nation's Capital this fall with a full class of 15 highly engaged participants. CBF has offered its Volunteers as Chesapeake Stewards (VoiCeS) program in Maryland and Virginia since 2004. The six-week course marks the first time that adults in the Washington, D.C., metro area got the opportunity to learn about their local waterways, the challenges to restoring water quality in them, and how to get involved in protecting these precious local resources.

The course kicked off on October 5 and met for consecutive Thursdays through November 9. Taught by leading environmental and conservation experts, the D.C. Metro VoiCeS course covered topics such as Anacostia River restoration efforts, environmental justice, urban agriculture, the federal Farm Bill, and how to be an effective advocate.

—Keisha Sedlacek
Federal Director
Chesapeake Bay Foundation

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