The final quarter of the calendar year is often slow in terms of advocacy as legislative bodies are either grappling with election results or tackling only the bare essentials before the end of the year. That said, there have been important developments on critical clean water issues across the watershed in the last few months. Here’s a quick look:
First Round of Chesapeake WILD Grants is Announced
While Chesapeake WILD was established in October 2020, its first round of matching grants was awarded just this passed October. One such grant was awarded to CBF to continue freshwater mussel restoration in Virginia. As you may remember, the WILD program supports locally led initiatives to conserve and restore fish and wildlife habitats, enhance climate resilience, increase public access, partner with historically unserved communities, and improve water quality across the watershed.
This is all because advocates like you urged Congress to invest in our environment and habitat restoration. The establishment of this program and its initial funding is a victory we share with you.
Additionally, the $1.7 trillion budget for fiscal year 2023 that is awaiting President Biden’s signature includes $8 million in funding for Chesapeake WILD. That represents an increase of $4 million over its fiscal year 2022 budget of $4 million.
Putting a Stop to a Bad Permit in Maryland
CBF scientists are concerned about a groundwater discharge permit renewal on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. The permit would enable the Town of Hurlock’s wastewater treatment plant to continue spraying 725,000 gallons of treated wastewater per day onto farm fields puts water quality and wildlife at risk.
The treated wastewater is sprayed onto fields near Marshyhope Creek, Maryland’s only identified spawning habitat for endangered Atlantic sturgeon.
This deficient permit deserves much greater scrutiny. It relies on old studies, unreliable information, and a loophole to bypass Bay cleanup requirements. It puts water quality and endangered Atlantic sturgeon at risk. Advocates on Maryland’s Eastern Shore have joined CBF in urging MDE to deny the permit and instead focus on ensuring the existing Hurlock Wastewater Treatment Plant meets current discharge permit conditions.
We will continue to monitor the permit approval process.
Groundbreaking Greenhouse Gas-Reduction Program at Risk in Virginia
In early December, the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board approved a proposal that could end the state’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). By ending participation in RGGI, Virginia would lose a key tool for reducing air pollution from power plants, which contributes to pollution to the Bay. RGGI also provides the only dedicated revenue in Virginia for protecting communities from flooding.
RGGI’s benefits in Virginia—reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions while funding flood protection projects—are a triple win, yet still many of the state’s leaders are currently engaged in a multi-year process to end its participation in RGGI. CBF is following the process closely. We’ll continue to urge Virginia’s leaders to support a healthy Bay while protecting Virginians from flooding through our participation in RGGI. And we’ll need you with us along the way. Stay tuned for updates.
Celebrating 2022 Advocacy Wins and Looking Ahead to 2023
This year, thousands of our advocates took more than 28,000 actions for clean water at the local, state, and federal levels. While there were both wins and losses throughout the year, we wanted to celebrate some of the major wins that were accomplished thanks to you, our dedicated Bay advocates.
It is hard to believe, but January is just around the corner and legislative sessions will be kicking off at all levels across the watershed. As always, we’ll be looking to you, our dedicated advocates, to raise your voices on critical clean water issues next year. Stay tuned to our blog for more updates on what we’ll be advocating for in 2023.