The Chesapeake Bay Foundation applauded the $1.7 trillion budget for fiscal year 2023 that passed the Senate today by a vote of 68-29. The sprawling package, which includes increases for programs essential to restoring the Bay, is expected to clear the House when it votes this evening or tomorrow.
The federal government has been operating at fiscal 2022 spending levels since fiscal 2023 began October 1 because Congress failed adopt a new budget by the September 30 deadline. The fiscal 2023 budget numbers will take effect once President Biden signs the bill into law.
EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program will get $92 million for fiscal 2023, a $4 million increase from the fiscal 2022 level of $88 million.
The Program coordinates the efforts of the many federal, state, and local agency partners working together to restore the Bay and its tributaries. Roughly two-thirds of its annual budget is devoted to financing community projects to improve the health of local waterways and the Bay.
The Chesapeake Watershed Investments for Landscape Defense (WILD) grant program will be funded at $8 million this fiscal year. That represents an increase of $4 million over its fiscal 2022 budget of $4 million.
Chesapeake WILD was established in October 2020 and awarded its first round of matching grants in October. The program supports locally led initiatives to conserve and restore fish and wildlife habitats, enhance climate resilience, increase public access, partner with historically unserved communities, and improve water quality across the watershed.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture was allocated an additional $40 million, nationally, for Conservation Technical Assistance for the current fiscal year, increasing its budget to more than $800 million from the fiscal 2022 level of $760 million.
This program provides critical technical assistance to farmers wanting to implement conservation practices, such as planting streamside forested buffers and rotational grazing that improve water quality. Agriculture is the largest single source of pollution in the Bay.
CBF Interim Federal Director Keisha Sedlacek issued the following statement:
“The budget legislation passed by the Senate today provides important new funding for Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts. Increased funding for the Chesapeake Bay Program, the Chesapeake WILD program, and Conservation Technical Assistance will help put projects on the ground to improve water quality, address climate change, and conserve our natural resources.”
“CBF thanks Senate Majority Leader Schumer, Senate Minority Leader McConnell, Senate Appropriations Chairman Leahy (D-Vt.), Vice Chairman Shelby (R-Ala), and the Bay delegation members on the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senators Manchin (D-W.Va.), Coons (D-Del.), Capito (R-W.Va.), and Van Hollen (D-Md.), for their hard work and dedication.”