Chesapeake Bay Advocates Head to Capitol Hill

Chesapeake Bay Advocates Head to Capitol Hill
Clean water supporters brave winter storm to meet with members of Congress

(Annapolis, MD) – Today, the Choose Clean Water Coalition met with members of Congress to discuss concerns surrounding proposed funding cuts to the Chesapeake Bay restoration effort. With the deadline for the fiscal year 2018 budget looming and the recent release of the President’s proposed 2019 budget, the Coalition, made up of more than 230 nonprofit organizations, spoke with their members and staff about the importance of funding the Chesapeake Bay Program at the previously approved level of $73 million.

Last year, the president received intense push back from the environmental community and members of Congress on his first budget proposal, which recommended elimating funding for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay Program. This year, the president has recommended that the Program be funded  at $7.3 million, a 90 percent cut from the current funding level. The Coalition, in partnership with members of the Chesapeake delegation in Congress, are working to restore funding in both budget proposals, as it results in millions of dollars in support for projects that are improving communities and protecting local waterways in every state in the watershed and the District of Columbia.

“While the Trump administration’s rhetoric has been supportive of the Chesapeake Bay restoration effort, its actions have been anything but. President Trump continues to undervalue and undercut the major, collaborative effort that has worked to better the health of the Chesapeake Bay, which is a national treasure,” said Senator Ben Cardin. “Choose Clean Water Coalition members understand what a difference a healthy Chesapeake Bay — and the rivers and streams that flow through its watershed – does to promote a healthy economy. Restoration cannot continue without a strong federal partner. Once again, 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.”

In 2017, more than $48 million of the $73 million in funding went to the Chesapeake Bay watershed states and the District of Columbia.This money was used to support on the ground projects that create new oyster beds, plant trees to improve wildlife habitat, reduce pollution from farms farmland, and other activities that are improving local communities and neighborhoods. The results of these projects are visible, as a recent study just concluded that the Chesapeake Bay’s underwater grasses are having the largest resurgence in the world. This critical habiat for iconic bay critters creatures, like blue crabs and striped bass, is being measured in areas of the bay that have not had bay grass since the early 1970s. Without the financial and scientific support from the federal government, the projects that are responsible for this progress would continue and the Chesapeake Bay restoration effort would find itself moving backward instead of forward.

“Just when we are seeing progress in the Potomac River, Chesapeake Bay, and other waterways, the Administration is again proposing drastic cuts to the Chesapeake Bay Program, which is leading this clean water comeback,” said Hedrick Belin, president of the Potomac Conservancy. “This clean water funding has received strong bipartisan support, year after year, and continues to bring us closer to fishable, swimmable waters. Slashing funding now threatens the drinking water of 5 million people in the DC metro and millions more throughout the Bay region.”

The Coalition and its members will continue to fight any attacks that may hinder this bipartisan restoration effort, and work to secure the essential funding that is necessary to return clean water to the Chesapeake Bay.

The Choose Clean Water Coalition, an organization that harnesses the collective power of more than 230 local, state, regional and national groups to advocate for clean rivers and streams in all communities in the Chesapeake region.

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