The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) praised today’s passage by the U.S. House of Representatives of fiscal year 2022 spending bills that include promising budget numbers for EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program, a new Interior Department program to restore habitat in the Bay watershed, and Army Corps of Engineers oyster restoration work.
The House voted 219-208 to pass a package of seven fiscal 2022 spending bills. The package includes the Interior-Environment Appropriations bill, which provides annual funding for EPA and the Interior Department, and the Energy and Water Appropriations bill, which provides annual funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).
The Interior-Environment Appropriations bill would increase funds for the Chesapeake Bay Program, which coordinates the state-federal-local government partnership to restore the Bay, by $3 million, from $87.5 this fiscal year to $90.5 million in fiscal 2022. That is the full amount authorized for fiscal 2022 when the Program was reauthorized last year.
It also calls for the new Chesapeake Watershed Investments for Landscape Defense (Chesapeake WILD) program to get $15 million next year. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is part of the Interior Department, will administer this initiative to offer grant funding for local projects to restore and conserve fish and wildlife habitat across the Bay’s 64,000 square-mile watershed.
The fiscal 2022 Energy and Water Appropriations bill would explicitly dedicate $3.9 million, the amount President Biden recommended, to the USACE’s work helping Maryland and Virginia restore oyster populations in 10 tributary rivers by 2025, as called for in the 2014 Chesapeake Watershed Agreement. The report accompanying the bill expresses the House Appropriations Committee’s support for the Chesapeake Bay Comprehensive Plan, which provides a detailed roadmap for USACE work to restore fish and wildlife habitat across the watershed.
The Senate Appropriations Committee still must draft its version of the annual spending bills and reconcile their differences with the House-passed bills before fiscal 2021 ends on September 30. To date the committee has not released any fiscal 2022 appropriations bills.
CBF Federal Executive Director Denise Stranko issued the following statement:
“These bills wisely make big investments in programs at the heart of the effort to restore the Bay and the thousands of miles of creeks, streams, and rivers that feed into it. Time is running short for watershed states meet their 2025 pollution-reduction deadlines, yet significant work remains.
“Full funding for the Chesapeake Bay Program and explicitly directing Army Corps oyster restoration funds to the Bay lay a strong foundation for a final push to save this national treasure and the multibillion-dollar recreation and seafood industries it supports. Launching the Chesapeake WILD habitat conservation grants program with full funding means communities can undertake local restoration projects that improve local water quality, create jobs, and enhance their outdoor economies.
“CBF is grateful to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and the Bay delegation’s House Appropriations Committee members who worked with us, Reps. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.), Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.), David Trone (D-Md.), and Ben Cline (R-Va.), for their dedication to ensuring robust funding for these priority programs. We urge the Senate Appropriations Committee to build on the excellent start these funding levels represent.”