The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) hailed passage today by the U.S. House of Representatives of the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, which boosts funding for EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program by a historic $238 million over five years.
The House approved the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act by a vote of 228-206. The U.S. Senate passed the bill in early August. President Biden is expected to sign it into law soon.
The Chesapeake Bay Program coordinates the federal-state-local government partnership to restore the Bay and local rivers and streams across the 64,000 square-mile watershed that feed into it. It funds grants for local restoration projects in the six watershed states and the District of Columbia, and supports vital scientific research.
Its efforts are critical to implementation of the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, which calls for states to put programs and practices in place by 2025 that will result in a restored Bay. Current funding for the Program is $87.5 million. The House passed a fiscal 2022 appropriations bill in July that would set Program spending at $90.5 million. The Senate has yet to consider the fiscal 2022 budget for EPA.
The $238 million increase works out to $47.6 million in added funded annually, or more than 50 percent higher than current levels. Once President Biden signs it into law, the legislation would raise authorized funding for the Program from $90.5 million to $138.1 million in the coming fiscal year.
CBF Federal Executive Director Denise Stranko issued the following statement:
“More money for the Chesapeake Bay Program is welcome news at a pivotal time for the future of the Bay, its tributaries, and the more than 18 million people who live, work, and play in its six-state watershed.
“EPA and the states are running out of time to meet their water quality commitments by the Blueprint’s 2025 deadline. EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program plays a crucial role coordinating Bay restoration efforts. Investing an additional $47 million a year in the Bay Program will help put more boots on the ground planting streamside buffers, restoring oyster reefs, installing rain gardens, and pursuing the many other projects to reduce pollution that are central to implementing state cleanup plans.
“We look forward to partnering with EPA to make the most of this timely budget increase while we still have time to save this national treasure. We owe future generations nothing less.
“CBF thanks House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.; House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md.; Chesapeake Bay Task Force Co-Chairmen John Sarbanes, D-Md., and Bobby Scott, D-Va., and the rest of our Bay delegation champions for their steadfast support of the Chesapeake Bay Program.”
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