The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) cheered the House Appropriations Committee’s approval today of fiscal year 2023 appropriations legislation that would provide robust funding for EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program and a new grant program to restore fish and wildlife habitat across the Bay watershed.
The House Appropriations Committee passed the bill, which funds the Interior Department, EPA, and related agencies, by a vote of 32-24.
The committee-passed bill would boost the Bay Program’s budget in fiscal 2023 to $92 million, a $4 million increase over its current spending level of $88 million and $1.4 million more than President Biden requested in his fiscal 2023 budget.
EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program coordinates and leads the federal-state-local partnership to restore the Bay and the many local creeks, streams, and rivers that feed into it. Roughly two-thirds of its budget supports grants that fund community-based efforts to improve water quality.
The Bay states have less than four years to meet their water quality commitments under the Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Blueprint. The Blueprint is working, but according to the Bay Program’s latest modeling data, the states are not on track to meet the 2025 deadline.
The Interior-Environment spending bill also calls for the Chesapeake Watershed Investments for Landscape Defense (WILD) grant program to be fully funded next year at the annual authorized level of $15 million.
Created in 2020, Chesapeake WILD went unfunded in fiscal 2021 and received only $4 million for fiscal 2022. It is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and finances local initiatives to restore fish and wildlife habitat and expand recreational opportunities in the Bay watershed.
Following the markup, CBF Federal Executive Director Denise Stranko issued this statement:
“CBF thanks the House Appropriations Committee for providing robust, critically needed resources to the Bay restoration effort at this pivotal time.
“The Bay states have a lot of work to do in less than four years to meet their cleanup commitments. Boosting fiscal 2023 funds for the Chesapeake Bay Program and Chesapeake WILD grants will ensure federal dollars support water quality and habitat restoration projects that can most benefit local communities as well as the watershed-wide effort to save the Bay and its waterways.
“CBF appreciates the hard work of House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), committee Ranking Member Kay Granger (R-Tex.), Interior-Environment Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), subcommittee Ranking Member David Joyce (R-Ohio), and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.).
“We also extend our thanks to Bay delegation members of the House Appropriations Committee, Reps. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.), David Trone (D-Md.), Andy Harris (R-Md.), and Ben Cline (R-Va.).”