House Committee Bills Continue Funding for Bay Restoration Despite Deep Budget Cuts and Controversial Policy Riders

The House Appropriations Committee has approved, by a 29-25 vote, a fiscal year 2025 Interior-Environment spending bill that protects key Bay restoration programs from deep cuts but guts the overall EPA and Interior Department budgets and contains numerous controversial policy riders the Chesapeake Bay Foundation opposes.  

The bill calls for EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program to be funded at $92 million for the third straight year. It also contains the extra $47.6 million a year for the Program included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021. Through the Program, EPA coordinates the multi-state, multi-agency cleanup of the Bay and its tributaries. Roughly two-thirds of the Program’s annual budget funds locally led conservation projects across the Bay’s six-state watershed. 

Also for the third year in a row, the Chesapeake Watershed Investments for Landscape Defense (WILD) program, administered by the Fish and Wildlife Service, would see its fiscal 2025 budget held constant at $8 million. Chesapeake WILD grants help finance local habitat restoration projects throughout the region. 

The National Park Service-run Chesapeake Gateways Program would be funded at $3 million for the fourth year running under the fiscal 2025 spending bill. The Program manages the Chesapeake Gateways and Trails Network, which focuses on increasing access to public lands and conserving the natural, cultural, and historic resources of the Bay region. Most of its annual allocation funds community-based projects to tell the Bay’s diverse stories to a wider audience. 

Unfortunately, the House Appropriations Committee measure also contains disastrous policy riders to block an array of other Biden administration initiatives and regulations, including air and water pollution rules essential to restoring the health of the Bay and its tributaries. 

These partisan riders also target groundbreaking Biden administration initiatives to fight climate change and its devastating effects, which already pose an existential threat to the Bay region. And they would undermine forward-looking programs that promote environmental justice, and advance diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

The House Appropriations Committee also approved the annual spending bill that funds Army Corps of Engineers civil works projects, by a vote of 30-26. The fiscal 2025 Energy and Water bill includes $10.3 million for the Corps to use dredged material to help address sea-level rise and recurrent flooding on Virginia’s Tangier Island. That is the full amount requested in President Biden’s 2025 budget. 

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) recently convened a meeting of federal, state, and local officials with community leaders on Tangier to discuss developing a state-certified resilience plan for the Tangier Island system, including neighboring Port Isobel. 

Since the 1850s, Tangier Island has lost about two-thirds of its land mass. According to researchers, much of the rest could be lost in the next 50 years without intervention. 

CBF Federal Director Keisha Sedlacek made the following statement: 

“While CBF appreciates that the Chesapeake Bay Program, Chesapeake WILD grants, and the Chesapeake Gateways Program were spared the budget ax, we are distressed by the crippling cuts the fiscal 2025 Interior-Environment bill proposes to the EPA and Interior Department budgets. 

“We also strongly oppose the many ‘poison pill’ riders included that would block the leading agencies responsible for protecting human health, the environment, and our natural resources from carrying out their core mission. 

“However, CBF was pleased to see robust funding of $10.3 million for the Army Corps to continue its vital work to protect Tangier Island while there is still time. This unique Bay island and its culture are truly irreplaceable.  

“We urge the Senate Appropriations Committee to match the House Energy and Water bill’s funding for Tangier Island and to continue its bipartisan tradition of prioritizing Bay restoration programs in the Interior-Environment bill.”

Lisa Caruso 90x110

Lisa Caruso

Washington, D.C. Communications & Media Relations Manager, CBF

[email protected]

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