On April 5, the Choose Clean Water Coalition met with Members of Congress to discuss concerns surrounding funding for the Chesapeake Bay restoration effort. Specifically, the Coalition, a nonprofit organization made up of over 225 local, state, and national groups from all six states in the Chesapeake watershed and the District of Columbia, talked with their members and staff about the impact of eliminating $73 million in funding for the Chesapeake Bay Program on local restoration efforts.
Last month, the President released his proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2018, which recommended that funding for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay Program be eliminated. The majority of this funding, over $45 million, is granted back to Bay watershed state and local communities to support local on the ground restoration efforts. Without this funding support, projects that nonprofits, municipalities, and states are implementing to improve their local communities will end.
“The proposed budget would leave already cash-strapped state and local governments, as well as community groups and nonprofits, holding the bag,” says Chris Miller, President of The Piedmont Environmental Council in Virginia. “The state and local governments would be left to tackle aging infrastructure like failing sewage treatment systems, and to provide the incentives needed to reduce pollution generated by homes, businesses and farms.”
Funding for the Chesapeake Bay has historically found support from both sides of the aisle, with Republicans and Democrats recognizing the importance of Bay funding for improving local communities, and their rivers and streams. Most recently, members of both the House and Senate have sent letters of support for funding the Chesapeake Bay Program to the White House and Congressional funding committees.
“President Trump has no idea what a major, collaborative effort it has taken to reverse the not-too-distant trend of dead zones and poor harvests in the Chesapeake Bay, which is a National Treasure” said Senator Ben Cardin. “Choose Clean Water Coalition members understand how absurd the president’s Budget Blueprint is and they have seen what a difference a healthy Chesapeake Bay has done to promote a healthy economy. Restoration cannot continue without a strong federal partner. Now, our challenge is to demonstrate to appropriators why it is in their best interest and the nation’s interest to continue funding the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program.”
Moving forward, the Coalition will work to continue to push back on the President’s proposed budget, and secure the essential funding that is necessary to return clean water to the Chesapeake Bay.