Federal Affairs Office Update

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The U.S. Capitol Building

CBF Staff

From the Desk of Denise Stranko

Spring 2022

Federal Budget Includes Increases for Priority Programs

The $1.5 trillion omnibus package that set final fiscal year 2022 spending levels for the federal government increased funding for three programs integral to restoring the Bay, its tributaries, and wildlife habitat across the watershed. Although fiscal year 2022 began last October 1, federal agencies had to continue operating under their fiscal year 2021 budgets until the omnibus was enacted in March.

The measure raised funding for EPA's Chesapeake Bay Program, which coordinates the federal-state-local clean-up effort, from $87.5 million in fiscal year 2021 to $88 million for fiscal year 2022. President Biden's fiscal year 2023 budget request would boost that to $90.6 million. The fiscal year 2022 omnibus also bumped up spending on technical assistance for farmers enrolled in federal conservation programs from $734 in fiscal year 2021 to $760 million for fiscal year 2022. Biden's budget would boost the amount to $885 million in fiscal year 2023. A portion of the technical assistance funds helps watershed farmers adopt practices that reduce polluted runoff into the Bay and the local streams and rivers that feed into it.

In another win, the omnibus appropriated $4 million for the new Chesapeake Watershed Investments for Landscape Defense (WILD) program. Created in 2020 but not funded in fiscal 2021, the program will support local efforts to conserve and restore fish and wildlife habitat.

Report Highlights Benefits of Farm Conservation Practices

CBF released a new report, Farm Forward, that details the multiple benefits of conservation practices essential to cleaning up the Bay. CBF wants the Biden administration to dramatically increase funds for federal farm conservation programs. Agriculture must make roughly 80 percent of the pollution cuts still needed to restore the Bay. These programs provide financial and technical help to farmers who adopt practices, such as planting forested buffers along waterways, that keep polluted runoff out of the Bay and its tributaries. Farm Forward bolsters the case for spending more on conservation programs by explaining how these practices also fight climate change, improve soil health, spur local economies, and boost farmers' bottom lines.

CBF Supports Interim Wetlands Definition

CBF filed comments supporting the Biden administration's proposal to repeal its predecessor's dangerously narrow definition of wetlands protected under the Clean Water Act and temporarily replace it with an updated version of the stronger definition used before 2015. While CBF considers the temporary definition a good first step, we called on the administration to do more to ensure strong federal protections for ecologically important wetlands in the Bay watershed. CBF also urged the administration to thoroughly consider how the new definition it ultimately writes would affect socially disadvantaged and underserved communities already overburdened by the effects of wetlands loss.

—Denise Stranko
Federal Affairs Executive Director
Chesapeake Bay Foundation

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