The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) applauded the House Appropriations Committee for voting 33-26 today to approve a fiscal year 2022 budget for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that includes encouraging funding increases for watershed education and oyster restoration programs.
The bill would boost funds for the Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) Program by $4.5 million, from $7.75 million this fiscal year to $12 million in fiscal 2022. NOAA operates the K-12 environmental education initiative in seven regions of the country, including the Chesapeake Bay.
NOAA’s Chesapeake Bay Office administers B-WET in the watershed. Chesapeake B-WET enables students and teachers conduct their own research on the Bay ecosystem and understand the interrelationship of our region’s water quality, fisheries, and economy.
The bill also would bump up spending for NOAA’s marine species habitat conservation and restoration work by nearly $4 million. Funding would rise from $57.6 million this fiscal year to $61.5 million next year. Money from this account supports large-scale oyster restoration and research projects vital to the Bay cleanup.
The next step for the fiscal 2022 Commerce-Justice-Science spending bill is a vote by the full U.S. House of Representatives, although no vote has been scheduled. NOAA’s budget is in this legislation because the agency is part of the U.S. Commerce Department.
CBF Federal Executive Director Denise Stranko said:
“CBF is pleased to see these encouraging funding increases for NOAA programs critical to ensuring a healthy Bay watershed, a thriving seafood industry, and an educated new generation of Bay savers. NOAA’s Chesapeake Bay Office plays a key role in the federal-state-local partnership to restore the Bay, revive the native oyster population, and manage the fisheries at the heart of our region’s economy.
“CBF applauds Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.) for his efforts to boost NOAA funds for key watershed priorities in his first bill as chairman of House Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations Subcommittee. We also thank Commerce-Justice-Science Subcommittee Ranking Member Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) and our Bay champions on the subcommittee, Reps. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), David Trone (D-Md.), and Ben Cline (R-Va.) for their work on the bill.
“CBF also appreciates the leadership of House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Kay Granger (R-Tex.), and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer D-Md.), along with that of committee member and Bay champion Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.)."
CBF Vice President of Environmental Education Tom Ackerman said:
“The B-WET program is a critical tool in helping our states and schools achieve environmental literacy and scientific literacy. Studies have shown that environmental education improves academic performance, increases civic engagement, and instills a belief that individuals can make a difference. Increasing these funds would help watershed states and schools struggling to get high quality environmental education opportunities to all students, especially those in under-resourced districts.
“If we hope to clean up the Bay and our local environments, we need to make sure all of the 2.7 million students in the watershed understand the connection to, and impact of, their communities on clean water. States have begun to address environmental literacy, but they must juggle competing priorities. They still have a long way to go, particularly to establish and sustain rich programs in under-resourced urban and rural schools.
“We also face a new and urgent need to develop climate literacy programming and curricula to enable our students to become the innovators and citizens who will act to solve the global climate crisis. Additional B-WET funding can help us accomplish these goals and share our successes across the country.”