25 Bipartisan Members of Congress Urge Chesapeake Bay Restoration Recommitment

As 2025 Deadline Looms, EPA Seeks Input on Next Steps

As the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program seeks public input on the next phase of Chesapeake Bay restoration, this week a bipartisan group of 25 U.S. Senators and Representatives from Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, New York, and the District of Columbia urged regional leaders to recommit to the Chesapeake Bay. 

The June 24 letter from members of Congress to a committee of state and federal leaders comes at a pivotal time in the decades-old partnership to clean up the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers and streams. 

The most recent phase of this effort was galvanized in 2014, when the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement was signed by the governors of the six states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, the mayor of the District of Columbia, the Chesapeake Bay Commission, and the EPA Administrator. 

The agreement includes a 2025 deadline for having the practices in place to reduce pollution to the region’s waterways, as well as other key measures. That has led to important successes, including the largest oyster reef restoration projects in the world and dramatically reducing pollution from sewage treatment plants. 

But many goals will not be met by 2025, including legally-binding commitments by the states to reduce pollution to the Bay. Polluted runoff from agriculture, cities, and developed areas remain major issues. 

Seeking to chart a course on next steps for Chesapeake Bay restoration, the partnership formed a Beyond 2025 Steering Committee last year managed by the EPA and the Chesapeake Bay Commission. The committee recently issued a draft report with recommendations, and on June 27 voted to open it to a 60-day public feedback period beginning July 1. 

A critical next step comes in December, when the Chesapeake Executive Council—made up of the governors of Bay watershed states, the mayor of the District of Columbia, the EPA Administrator, and the Chesapeake Bay Commission—will meet. 

The Beyond 2025 Steering Committee’s recent report asks for the region’s leaders to affirm their commitments to working together in partnership to meet Bay restoration goals. It also recommends reviewing and updating the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement as needed, given updates in science and growing challenges such as climate change. 

In a letter this week, members of Congress urged action on several fronts, including: 

  • Asking “signatories of the 2014 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement to affirm their continuing commitment at this December’s Executive Council Meeting to the partnership and ultimate goal of that Agreement – to restore the Bay and its watershed for the benefit of all residents.” 
  • Asking state and federal leaders to “evaluate, amend and recommit to the Agreement by the end of 2025 to build on four decades of progress by strategically and expeditiously updating specific goals and outcomes to reflect the current, best available science.”

Chesapeake Bay Foundation Federal Director Keisha Sedlacek issued the following statement. 

“Unless our region’s governors pledge to continue working together with state and federal leaders on Chesapeake Bay restoration, we will never have a vibrant, healthy Bay. Decades of hard work would come undone, threatening the well-being of millions of people across the region. 

“Chesapeake Bay restoration experts and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle are all saying the same thing. Now is the time for governors across the Chesapeake Bay region to step up and publicly recommit to working together to meet goals for cleaner and healthier waterways. That includes updating the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement by the end of 2025 to reflect the latest science and growing challenges from climate change.

“This December’s Chesapeake Executive Council meeting is the greatest opportunity for our region’s governors and the EPA Administrator to come together and recommit to the Bay.” 

Choose Clean Water Coalition Director Kristin Reilly issued the following statement.

“We’re facing a critical juncture in the effort to protect and restore the rivers and streams feeding the Chesapeake Bay. Despite many challenges, we’ve seen tremendous progress under the 2014 Chesapeake Watershed Agreement. But we are off track on several goals that are critical to reaching our objective of healthy rivers and streams, thriving communities, and flourishing habitats.

“Now more than ever, we need bold and ambitious leaders to build on current momentum and move the Bay restoration effort forward. We applaud all the Members of Congress who demonstrated this leadership by calling on the Chesapeake Executive Council to recommit to and refresh the 2014 Agreement.”

Kenny Fletcher 90x110

Kenny Fletcher

Director of Communications and Media Relations, CBF

[email protected]

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