(WASHINGTON, DC)—The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) cheered the $5.5 million boost for EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program in the fiscal year 2021 Interior-Environment appropriations bill the House of Representatives passed today by a vote of 224-189.
EPA’s budget moved as part of a four-bill package that also included fiscal 2021 spending bills for the State Department and Foreign Operations, Agriculture, Military Construction, and Veterans Affairs. The appropriations process is on hold in the Senate, where the Appropriations Committee has yet to consider spending legislation for next year.
The House also defeated an amendment that would have prohibited the EPA from holding the six watershed states and the District of Columbia accountable for not meeting their pollution-reduction targets under the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint. This amendment was defeated as part of a larger package of individual amendments. It would have undermined the restoration efforts Bay advocates have been working on for years.
The Chesapeake Bay Program coordinates the federal-state-local partnership for restoring the Bay watershed. Today the House soundly rejected the Trump administration’s attempt to gut the Program’s budget by more than 91 percent, from $85 million this year to $7.3 million for 2021. Instead, the House endorsed increasing it to $90.5 million.
The Program helps fund local restoration projects across the 64,000-square mile watershed, coordinates the water quality monitoring and other science, monitors and reports on the states’ progress towards hitting their pollution-reductions targets by 2025, and is responsible for holding them accountable if they fall behind.
CBF Federal Executive Director Jason Rano issued this statement on the vote:
“EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program is critical to saving the Bay and its waterways. The six watershed states and the District of Columbia cannot meet the 2025 deadline for adopting the policies and practices to restore the watershed without its funding and expertise.
“CBF deeply appreciates the efforts of House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and the Bay Delegation’s three Appropriations Committee members, Representatives Dutch Ruppersberger, Matt Cartwright, and Andy Harris, for moving this additional $5.5 million for the Chesapeake Bay Program through the House. We urge the Senate to follow suit to ensure the Program receives a needed increase at this pivotal time for the Bay and the local creeks, streams, and rivers that feed into it.”