The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) hailed the Senate Appropriations Committee’s fiscal year 2022 spending plan for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for dedicating $9.6 million to restoration projects in the Bay watershed.
The Senate Appropriations Committee bill would specifically direct $5.75 million to Chesapeake Bay environmental restoration and protection in Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. The recommendation is included in the fiscal 2022 Energy and Water spending bill the panel marked up August 4 by a vote of 25-5.
The report accompanying the Senate committee bill expresses support for the Army Corps’ Chesapeake Bay Comprehensive Water Resources Restoration Plan and encourages the Corps to devote sufficient funds to implementing it. The plan lays out a detailed roadmap of thousands of local projects across the watershed vital to achieving the ambitious habitat restoration goals of the 2014 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement.
The House Appropriations Committee’s fiscal 2022 Energy and Water spending bill does not contain this $5.75 million line item. However, the report accompanying the House committee bill calls for providing up to $5 million from another account “to employ nature-based tools and principles to support civil works flood control and ecosystem planning objectives and operations in the Chesapeake Bay.”
The Senate committee bill also calls for the Army Corps to get $3.9 million for oyster recovery work in the Bay, the same amount in the bill the House Appropriations Committee marked up last month and in President Biden’s fiscal 2022 budget request.
The funds would enable Maryland and Virginia to continue making progress towards restoring oyster reefs in 10 tributary rivers by 2025, as called for in the 2014 Bay Agreement. Oysters are a keystone species in the Bay that provide ecosystem services such as filtering up to 50 gallons of water a day and providing habitat for marine life vital to the region’s multibillion-dollar seafood industry.
CBF Federal Executive Director Denise Stranko issued the following statement:
“This bill represents an exciting step toward breaking ground on the more than 4,000 Bay-saving projects outlined in the Army Corps’ Chesapeake Bay Comprehensive Plan. Finally implementing this plan could dramatically increase the pace and impact of state efforts to reach the 2014 Bay Agreement’s habitat restoration goals by 2025.
“We are also pleased the Senate Appropriations Committee devoted funding to restoring the Bay’s native oyster population. This work is vital to the future of this amazing ecosystem and the multibillion-dollar seafood industry it supports.
“CBF thanks Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca.), Ranking Member John Kennedy (R-La.), Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), and Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-Al.), along with Bay delegation Energy and Water Subcommittee member Sen. Chris Coons (D-De.), and full committee member Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), for their work on this bill.
“We look forward to working with congressional negotiators to ensure this robust funding for oyster recovery and habitat restoration makes it into the final fiscal 2022 Army Corps spending plan.”
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