Senate Interior Appropriations 2019

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March 13, 2018

The Honorable Lisa Murkowski, Chair

 Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies

S-128 Capitol U.S. Senate Washington, D.C., 20510


The Honorable Tom Udall, Ranking Minority Member

Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies

 S-146A Capitol U.S. Senate Washington, D.C., 20510


Dear Chair Murkowski and Ranking Member Udall:

The undersigned members of the Choose Clean Water Coalition request continued support for programs that are essential to maintaining and restoring clean water to the rivers and streams throughout the Chesapeake Bay region and to the Bay itself. Two-thirds of the 18 million people in this region get the water they drink directly from the rivers and streams that flow through the cities, towns and farms throughout our six state, 64,000 square mile watershed. Protecting and restoring clean water is essential for human health and for a robust regional economy.

The efforts to clean the Chesapeake began under President Reagan in 1983. In his 1984 State of the Union speech President Reagan said, “Preservation of our environment is not a liberal or conservative challenge, it's common sense.”

To follow a common sense path to maintain healthy local water and restore Chesapeake Bay, which is critical for our regional economy, we request funding for the following programs in Fiscal Year 2019: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Chesapeake Bay Program -- $73.0 million

We support level funding of $73.0 million for the base budget of the Chesapeake Bay Program, which coordinates Chesapeake Bay watershed restoration and protection efforts. At least twothirds of the program’s funds are passed through to the states and local communities for on-theground restoration work through the Small Watershed Grants, Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Grants, State Implementation Grants, and the Chesapeake Bay Regulatory and Accountability Program grants. 

We strongly support the highly successful and popular Chesapeake Small Watershed Grants and the Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Grants – $6 million each – that Congress

appropriated for the past few years. These are two well-run, competitive grant programs that have contributed significantly to water quality improvements throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed. These are the Bay Program’s only grants that go directly to on-the-ground restoration efforts by local governments and communities, including to family farms. Without specific Congressional direction, EPA has, in the past, reallocated this grant money for purposes other than local restoration. This is not the time to stop local implementation of restoration work. We strongly support the funding levels that Congress has appropriated each year since FY2015, and we urge you to include language similar to the Senate’s Explanatory Statement for the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, 2018, which states, “Chesapeake Bay - The Committee recommends $73,000,000 for the Chesapeake Bay Program. From within the amount provided, $6,000,000 is for nutrient and sediment removal grants and $6,000,000 is for small watershed grants to control polluted runoff from urban, suburban and agricultural lands.” 

We urge you to retain similar language in the FY 2019 Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, for both the overall Chesapeake Bay Program and for the local grant programs. 

Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) --$2.8 billion

This program is critical to any national initiative to provide a Federal Infrastructure Spending Plan and it provides the lifeblood for the 1,779 local governments throughout the Chesapeake region to secure their water infrastructure. The funding level for this Clean Water SRF has eroded over the years as the clean water needs of local communities have increased dramatically. The Choose Clean Water Coalition supports efforts in both the House and the Senate, and within the Administration, to enhance investments in key water infrastructure projects nationwide, and the Clean Water SRF is the single best mechanism to accomplish that goal. We support doubling the current funding for the Clean Water SRF – and that is what we are requesting. This will help to close the gap between federal infrastructure investment in clean water and the known need. This will also dramatically improve water quality and protect human health in our region and across the nation.

These low interest loans are critical for clean water and for ratepayers in the Chesapeake region and nationwide. We urge you to support the $2.8 billion funding level that would provide $590 million in low interest loans to local governments in Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia – twice the current level of funding. We also strongly support targeting 20 percent of the Clean Water SRF funds for green infrastructure and innovative projects including those to manage stormwater, which helps communities improve water quality while creating green space, mitigating flooding, and enhancing air quality.

The Clean Water SRF allocates money to the states based on a set formula, which is then used for low interest loans to local governments for critical capital construction improvement projects to reduce nutrient and sediment pollution from wastewater treatment and stormwater facilities; nonpoint sources of pollution, such as farms and development; and other sources. In addition to

the use of these funds on farms and for nonpoint source pollution, it provides assistance for other pollution reduction and prevention activities in rural areas, such as reforestation and forest protection and stream stabilization and restoration. The Clean Water SRF enables local governments in the Chesapeake watershed to take actions to keep their rivers and streams clean. As the list of clean water infrastructure needs in the Chesapeake region continues to expand, we request that Congress double the funding of the Clean Water SRF from the current funding level. Department of the Interior

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) -- Chesapeake Bay Studies -- $12.6 million

We support full funding for the USGS to continue to provide the critical science necessary for restoration and protection efforts for fish, wildlife and the 18 million people in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. USGS monitoring and assessment informs decisions made by the Department of the Interior as well as other federal and state partners on issues related to fisheries and associated water quality, waterfowl and their habitats and land protection.   In FY 2019, USGS is putting a new focus on habitat conditions supporting important recreational fisheries. Habitat conditions from headwater streams to tidal estuaries will be assessed to help focus, and evaluate, restoration and protection efforts. The efforts will include summarizing the factors affecting fish health in the watershed and opportunities to reduce effects from nutrients, sediment, and toxic contaminants. The findings will also inform the development by the states of their Phase III Watershed Implementation Plans. USGS provides the expertise to restore and conserve coastal wetlands that are critical habitat for the more than one million waterfowl that winter in the Chesapeake region. In 2019 studies of black duck habitats will be used by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to adapt practices on national wildlife refuges, and USGS will begin to address shallow water habitats important for additional recreational species.  The USGS will be supplying land-change forecasts to inform land protection. The National Park Service and the Chesapeake Conservation Partnership have requested the USGS to provide forecasts of where development may impact healthy watersheds and vital lands across the watershed.  Finally, the USGS is leading an effort to map areas where restoration and conservation efforts will contribute to multiple Chesapeake goals - benefiting people in the watershed as well as fish and wildlife. This mapping is being used by state and federal partners to more effectively focus actions and share available resources. National Park Service -- Chesapeake Regional Programs -- $2.897 million

The National Park Service Chesapeake Bay Office runs a number of small, but very important programs that focus on increasing public access and the use of ecological, cultural and historic resources of the Chesapeake region. Expanding access and public awareness fosters stewardship and protection efforts.

We are requesting level funding for these key programs administered by the National Park Service in the Chesapeake Bay watershed: Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail ($389,000); Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Trails ($2.02 million); and support for coordinating these programs through the National Park Service Chesapeake Bay Office ($488,000). In addition, as in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016, we urge you to extend the authorization for the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Trails program for two more years. Department of the Interior/U.S. Department of Agriculture

National Park Service/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service /U.S. Forest Service - Land and Water Conservation Fund Priority Projects in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed - $12.752 million

We strongly support full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. In particular, we support continuation of the strategic use of funds from the Land and Water Conservation Fund for priority projects in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. These efforts target conservation funds for critical priority landscapes throughout the Chesapeake Bay region. The following projects would protect nearly 6,000 acres nationally significant resources, such as migratory bird habitat, spawning areas for economically important fish and shellfish, significant forest resources and projects to enhance public access. 

• U.S Fish and Wildlife Service- James River National Wildlife Refuge (VA) –  $1 million • U.S Fish and Wildlife Service – Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge (VA) - $2 million • U.S. Forest Service – George Washington and Jefferson National Forests (VA) - $452,000 • U.S. Forest Service – George Washington and Jefferson National Forests (VA) - $2,300,000 • National Park Service – Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail (VA) - $4,000,000 • National Park Service –Richmond National Battlefield Park (VA) - $3,000,000 Thank you for your consideration of these very important requests to maintain funding for these programs which are critical to clean water throughout the mid-Atlantic region. Please contact Peter J. Marx at 410-905-2515 or with any questions or concerns. 


1000 Friends of Maryland

Alice Ferguson Foundation

Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay

American Chestnut Land Trust

American Rivers

Anacostia Watershed Society

Audubon Naturalist Society

Audubon Society of Northern Virginia

Back Creek Conservancy

Baltimore Tree Trust

 Blue Heron Environmental Network

 Blue Ridge Watershed Coalition

Blue Water Baltimore

 Cacapon Institute

Capital Region Land Conservancy

Catskill Mountainkeeper

Center for Progressive Reform

Chapman Forest Foundation

Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Chesapeake Legal Alliance

Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage

Clean Fairfax

Clean Water Action

Coalition for Smarter Growth

Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania

Delaware Nature Society

Ducks Unlimited

Earth Force

Earth Forum of Howard County

Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation

Elizabeth River Project

Elk Creeks Watershed Association

Environmental Working Group

Friends of Accotink Creek

Friends of Dyke Marsh

Friends of Lower Beaverdam Creek

Friends of Quincy Run

Friends of St. Clements Bay

Friends of Sligo Creek

Friends of the Middle River

Friends of the Nanticoke River

Friends of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River

Friends of the Rappahannock

Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake

James River Association

 Lackawanna River Conservation Association

Lancaster Farmland Trust

 Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper

Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in Pennsylvania 

Lynnhaven River NOW

Maryland Conservation Council

Maryland Environmental Health Network

Maryland League of Conservation Voters

Maryland Native Plant Society

Mattawoman Watershed Society

Mehoopany Creek Watershed Association

Mid-Atlantic Council Trout Unlimited

Mid-Atlantic Youth Anglers & Outdoor Partners

Montgomery Countryside Alliance

Muddy Branch Alliance

National Aquarium

National Parks Conservation Association

 National Wildlife Federation

Natural Resources Defense Council

Nature Abounds

Neighbors of the Northwest Branch

New York League of Conservation Voters

 New York State Council of Trout Unlimited

Otsego County Conservation Association

Otsego Land Trust



 Pennsylvania Council of Churches

 Piedmont Environmental Council

Potomac Conservancy

 Potomac Riverkeeper

Potomac Riverkeeper Network

Prince William Conservation Alliance

Queen Anne’s Conservation Association

Rachel Carson Council

Rivanna Conservation Alliance

 Rivertown Coalition for Clean Air and Clean Water

 Rock Creek Conservancy

St. Mary's River Watershed Association

Savage River Watershed Association

Severn River Association

 Shenandoah Riverkeeper

 Shenandoah Valley Network


Sidney Center Improvement Group

Sleepy Creek Watershed Association

South River Federation

Southern Environmental Law Center

 Southern Maryland Audubon Society


 Sparks-Glencoe Community Planning Council

Susquehanna Heritage

The Downstream Project

 Trash Free Maryland

 Trout Unlimited 

Upper Potomac Riverkeeper

  Upper Susquehanna Coalition

Virginia Conservation Network

Virginia Eastern Shorekeeper

Virginia Interfaith Power and Light

Virginia League of Conservation Voters

Warm Springs Watershed Association

Water Defense

Waterkeepers Chesapeake

West/Rhode Riverkeeper

West Virginia Citizens Action Group

West Virginia Environmental Council

West Virginia Highlands Conservancy

 West Virginia Rivers Coalition

Wicomico Environmental Trust