(ANNAPOLIS, MD)—Chesapeake Bay Foundation President Will Baker issued this statement today after Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) again offered an amendment to weaken the Chesapeake Bay clean-up effort. The House is expected to vote next week on the legislation.
"This amendment is out-of-step with bi-partisan agreement in Congress and among Bay states on the importance of the Chesapeake Bay cleanup. There is no doubt the Bay is improving. However, there are significant challenges ahead to meet the 2025 goals.
"Congress has twice in recent months voted to reject attempts to defund the Chesapeake Bay cleanup. Republicans and Democrats are united in support of the effort, a rare display of unity these days. A further attempt to undermine the Bay's progress is at odds with overwhelming public opinion, and an end-run around the will of Congress and Bay States. CBF will do everything in our power to see that this amendment is defeated."
In 2009, after several failed Chesapeake Bay watershed clean-up agreements, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) agreed to provide scientific leadership and oversight for a new plan: the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint. Under this plan, states develop and implement their own pollution-reduction plans simultaneously, and EPA tracks, publicly assesses their progress, and provides assurance that all states are fulfilling their commitments.
The Bay states fully support this effort. In 2014, the governors of Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia and New York, the mayor of the District of Columbia, representatives of the Chesapeake Bay Commission (representing the state legislative bodies) and federal agencies, voluntarily ratified the 2014 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement. This Agreement includes the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, which is driving remarkable water quality improvements.
Congressman Goodlatte's amendment would keep EPA from using any funds to provide this "firm accountability" if a state fails to meet its pollution-reduction goals set under the Blueprint. This accountability is what sets it apart from any previous federal-state Bay cleanup efforts. Without it, if one state does not implement its plan in good faith, the work and investments of all other states is in jeopardy.
In March, Congress rejected a Trump Administration proposal to largely defund the Chesapeake Bay Program in the fiscal year 2018 omnibus appropriations bill, much as it rejected similar cuts in the FY 2017 appropriations bill.
Rep. Goodlatte recently submitted an amendment to H.R. 6147—Interior, Environment, Financial Services, and General Government Appropriations Act, 2019 to prohibit the EPA from using any funds to enforce the Blueprint. This appropriations bill deals with EPA funding. Rep. Goodlatte has introduced a similar amendment before.