Federal Affairs

Revised Definition of Waters of the United States

Download letter here

Docket Number: EPA-HQ-OW-2018-0149 FRL-9988-15-OW

March 4, 2019

The Honorable Andrew Wheeler, Administrator
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of the Administrator: ‎1101A
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20460

Administrator Wheeler:

We are strongly opposed to the changes to the definition of the “Waters of the United States”, currently being proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. As members of the Choose Clean Water Coalition, we are committed to maintaining and restoring clean water to the rivers and streams throughout the Chesapeake Bay region and we rely on the Clean Water Act as the foundation of restoration and protection efforts.

The proposed changes regarding the definition of the “Waters of the United States” would be, by far, the biggest step backwards on clean water in our region since the Clean Water Act became law nearly a half century ago. And this is all occurring while EPA’s leadership has been very vocal by taking every opportunity to talk about its new mission statement, “EPA is returning to its core mission of protecting human health and the environment.” The proposed changes to the Clean Water Act contradict this basic core mission of EPA.

Approximately 11 million people (nearly two out of three) in the Chesapeake Bay watershed get their drinking water directly from the 147,149 miles of rivers and streams flowing into Chesapeake Bay. All of these rivers and streams are dependent on high quality water from the 56,689 miles of intermittent and ephemeral streams in their headwater areas, so we are extremely troubled at the proposal’s plan to remove all Clean Water Act protections for ephemeral streams and its suggestion that the final rule might also eliminate protections for intermittent streams.

Removing protections for intermittent and headwater streams throughout our region not only impacts our surface drinking water sources, but also threatens key habitat for shrinking populations of eastern brook trout. Protections would also be removed from valuable wetlands throughout our region that are critical for mitigating flooding and providing habitat for numerous species of fish and waterfowl. These wetlands are the primary reason that the Chesapeake is home to more than 1 million migratory geese, ducks and swans every winter. This great and critical part of the Atlantic Flyway would collapse if these critical wetland areas are lost.

The Chesapeake Bay Program partnership, coordinated by EPA, came together in 1983 to work to restore clean water to the 64,000 square mile watershed in Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Promulgating this rule to weaken the Clean Water Act and rollback protections would be a blow for the progress made in the Chesapeake Bay watershed in recent years.

On January 16, 2019, at your confirmation hearing in the U.S. Senate you stated, “There is no more important responsibility than protecting human health and the environment. It is a responsibility I take very seriously.” We urge you to abide by these words and to stop this attempt to weaken the Clean Water Act endangering human health and the environment in the Chesapeake region and nationwide.

Sincerely,


Action Together Northeastern Pennsylvania

American Chestnut Land Trust

American Rivers

Anacostia Riverkeeper

Anacostia Watershed Society

Annapolis Green

Arundel Rivers Federation

Audubon Maryland/DC

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

Butternut Valley Alliance

Cacapon Institute

Capital Region Land Conservancy

Catskill Mountainkeeper

Center for Progressive Reform

Chapman Forest Foundation

Chemung River Friends

Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Chesapeake Climate Action Network

Chesapeake Conservancy

Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage

Clean Fairfax

Clean Water Action

Clean Water Linganore 

Coalition for Smarter Growth

Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania

DC Environmental Network

Delaware Nature Society

Earth Conservation Corps

Earthworks

Earth Forum of Howard County

Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation

Eastern Shore Land Conservancy

Elizabeth River Project

Environmental Integrity Project

Environmental Justice Center of Chestnut Hill United Church

Environmental Working Group

Experience Learning

Float Fishermen of Virginia

Friends of Accotink Creek

Friends of Frederick County

Friends of Herring Run Park

Friends of Little Hunting Creek

Friends of Lower Beaverdam Creek

Friends of Quincy Run

Friends of Sligo Creek

Friends of the Bohemia

Friends of the Cacapon River

Friends of Dyke Marsh

Friends of the Middle River

Friends of the Nanticoke River

Friends of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River

Friends of the Rappahannock

Friends of St. Clements Bay

Goose Creek Association

Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake

James River Association

Lackawanna River Conservation Association

Lancaster Farmland Trust

Little Falls Watershed Alliance

Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper

Lynnhaven River NOW

Maryland Conservation Council

Maryland Environmental Health Network

Maryland League of Conservation Voters

Maryland Native Plant Society

Maryland Nonprofits

Maryland Science Center

Mattawoman Watershed Society

Mid-Atlantic Council Trout Unlimited

Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper

Muddy Branch Alliance

National Aquarium

National Parks Conservation Association

National Wildlife Federation

Natural Resources Defense Council

Nature Abounds

NeighborSpace of Baltimore County

New York League of Conservation Voters

New York State Council of Trout Unlimited

Neighbors of the Northwest Branch

Otsego County Conservation Association

Otsego Land Trust

Partnership for Smarter Growth

Patapsco Heritage Greenway

Patuxent Tidewater Land Trust 

PennEnvironment

PennFuture

Pennsylvania Council of Churches

Pennsylvania Council of Trout Unlimited

Piedmont Environmental Council

Potomac Conservancy

Potomac Riverkeeper

Potomac Riverkeeper Network

Potomac Valley Audubon Society

Queen Anne’s Conservation Association

Preservation Maryland

Rachel Carson Council

Restore America’s Estuaries

Rappahannock League for Environmental Protection

Richmond Audubon Society

Rivanna Conservation Alliance

Rock Creek Conservancy      

St. Mary's River Watershed Association

Savage River Watershed Association

Severn River Association

Shenandoah Riverkeeper Shenandoah Valley Network

ShoreRivers

Sidney Center Improvement Group

Sierra Club – Maryland Chapter

Sleepy Creek Watershed Association

Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project

Southern Environmental Law Center

Southern Maryland Audubon Society

SouthWings

Susquehanna Heritage

Talbot Preservation Alliance

The Downstream Project

Transition Howard County

Trash Free Maryland

Trout Unlimited

Upper Potomac Riverkeeper 

Virginia Association of Biological Farming

Virginia Conservation Network

Virginia League of Conservation Voters

Warm Springs Watershed Association

Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore, Inc.

Waterkeepers Chesapeake

West Virginia Citizen Action Group

West Virginia Environmental Council

West Virginia Highlands Conservancy

West Virginia Rivers Coalition

Wetlands Watch

Wicomico Environmental Trust

Senate Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies

Download letter here

March 4, 2019

 

The Honorable John Hoeven, Chairman

Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration
and Related Agencies

Committee on Appropriations

S-128 Capitol

U.S. Senate

Washington, D.C. 20510

 

The Honorable Jeff Merkley, Ranking Member

Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration
and Related Agencies

Committee on Appropriations

S-146A Capitol

U.S. Senate

Washington, D.C. 20510

 

Dear Chairman Hoeven and Ranking Member Merkley:

The undersigned members of the Choose Clean Water Coalition request continued support for clean water in the Chesapeake Bay watershed through fully funding the conservation programs of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill). There are 83,000 farms in the six-state Chesapeake region and they are critical to the economy - responsible for more than $10 billion of agricultural production each year. After forests, agriculture is the largest land use in the watershed.

The 2018 Farm Bill, which we strongly supported, should, if fully implemented and funded, ensure that well run, responsible farms in the Chesapeake region remain economically viable. The Conservation Title of the 2018 Farm Bill is also critical to maintain and restore clean water to the rivers and streams throughout the Chesapeake region, and for the Bay itself. These programs are essential for regulated agricultural operations to meet federal requirements under the Clean Water Act and help farmers meet state regulations that address both farm health and water quality.

 

We urge you to maintain full funding for mandatory agricultural conservation programs in Fiscal Year 2020. The 2018 Farm Bill made a number of improvements to key programs, and should accelerate our path toward clean water in our region, but only if these conservation programs are funded as Congress intended. With the support of much of the conservation community and clean water advocates, the 2018 Farm Bill maintained level funding for the Conservation Title.

Two-thirds of the 18 million people in the Chesapeake 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. Much of the work and funding necessary to achieve and maintain clean and healthy water in this region would be accomplished through the Farm Bill’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).  We urge you to provide full funding, $300 million for the RCPP. The Chesapeake

 

Bay Watershed is one of eight Critical Conservation Areas under the RCPP, and this program is vital for our region’s farms and waterways.

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is also a key conservation program for our region’s farmers, and we urge you to provide full funding for FY20 at $1.75 billion. Historically, EQIP has been the primary financial assistance program for conservation in the Chesapeake Bay region.

All six Chesapeake Bay watershed states have participated in the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), and this program is the key to restoring riparian buffers that are critical for water quality and wildlife habitat. The 2018 Farm Bill codified CREP and we urge you to ensure that the U.S. Department of Agriculture fully enrolls CREP acres based on the new provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill.

 

In order to follow a common sense path to maintain economically viable well run farms and to have healthy local water and a restored Chesapeake Bay, which is critical for our regional economy, we request full funding for all conservation programs in the Farm Bill for Fiscal Year 2020.

Thank you for your consideration on this very important request to maintain funding for these programs which are critical to both our agricultural community and for clean water throughout the mid-Atlantic region. Please contact Peter J. Marx at 410-905-2515 or peter@choosecleanwater.org with any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,


Action Together Northeastern Pennsylvania

Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay

Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley

American Chestnut Land Trust

American Rivers

Anacostia Riverkeeper

Anacostia Watershed Society

Annapolis Green

Arundel Rivers Federation

Audubon Maryland/DC

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

Butternut Valley Alliance

Cacapon Institute

Capital Region Land Conservancy

Catskill Mountainkeeper

Center for Progressive Reform

Chapman Forest Foundation

Chemung River Friends

Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Chesapeake Climate Action Network

Chesapeake Conservancy

Chesapeake Legal Alliance

Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage

Clean Fairfax

Clean Water Action

Clean Water Linganore 

Coalition for Smarter Growth

Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania

DC Environmental Network

Defenders of Wildlife

Delaware Nature Society

Ducks Unlimited

Earth Conservation Corps

Earthworks

Earth Forum of Howard County

Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation

Eastern Shore Land Conservancy

Elizabeth River Project

Environmental Integrity Project

Environmental Justice Center of Chestnut Hill United Church

Environmental Working Group

Experience Learning

Float Fishermen of Virginia

Friends of Accotink Creek

Friends of Frederick County

Friends of Herring Run Park

Friends of Little Hunting Creek

Friends of Lower Beaverdam Creek

Friends of Quincy Run

Friends of Sligo Creek

Friends of the Bohemia

Friends of the Cacapon River

Friends of Dyke Marsh

Friends of the Middle River

Friends of the Nanticoke River

Friends of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River

Friends of the Rappahannock

Friends of St. Clements Bay

Goose Creek Association

Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake

James River Association

Lackawanna River Conservation Association

Lancaster Farmland Trust

Little Falls Watershed Alliance

Lower Shore Land Trust

Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper

Lynnhaven River NOW

Maryland Conservation Council

Maryland Environmental Health Network

Maryland League of Conservation Voters

Maryland Native Plant Society

Maryland Nonprofits

Maryland Science Center

Mattawoman Watershed Society

Mid-Atlantic Council Trout Unlimited

Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper

Muddy Branch Alliance

National Aquarium

National Parks Conservation Association

National Wildlife Federation

Natural Resources Defense Council

Nature Abounds

NeighborSpace of Baltimore County

New York League of Conservation Voters

New York State Council of Trout Unlimited

Neighbors of the Northwest Branch

Otsego County Conservation Association

Otsego Land Trust

Partnership for Smarter Growth

Patapsco Heritage Greenway

Patuxent Tidewater Land Trust 

PennEnvironment

PennFuture

Pennsylvania Council of Churches

Pennsylvania Council of Trout Unlimited

Piedmont Environmental Council

Potomac Conservancy

Potomac Riverkeeper

Potomac Riverkeeper Network

Potomac Valley Audubon Society

Queen Anne’s Conservation Association

Preservation Maryland

Rachel Carson Council

Restore America’s Estuaries

Rappahannock League for Environmental Protection

Richmond Audubon Society

Rivanna Conservation Alliance

St. Mary's River Watershed Association

Savage River Watershed Association

Severn River Association

Shenandoah Riverkeeper Shenandoah Valley Network

ShoreRivers

Sidney Center Improvement Group

Sierra Club – Maryland Chapter

Sleepy Creek Watershed Association

Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project

Southern Maryland Audubon Society

SouthWings

Susquehanna Heritage

Talbot Preservation Alliance

The Downstream Project

Transition Howard County

Trout Unlimited

Upper Potomac Riverkeeper 

Virginia Association of Biological Farming

Virginia Conservation Network

Virginia League of Conservation Voters

Warm Springs Watershed Association

Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore, Inc.

Waterkeepers Chesapeake

West Virginia Citizen Action Group

West Virginia Environmental Council

West Virginia Highlands Conservancy

West Virginia Rivers Coalition

Wetlands Watch

Wicomico Environmental Trust


Senate Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies

Download letter here

March 4, 2019

 

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.

Over the past decade the states and the federal government have cooperated jointly and committed to a massive restoration program in the Bay watershed to restore the Bay and its tributaries by 2025. None of these goals can be met without the leadership, guidance, science and funding support provided by various Federal agencies. A lot of progress has been made, and as we enter the final few years approaching the 2025 deadlines, this is not the time to slow down the premier estuarine restoration effort in the world.

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 2020:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Chesapeake Bay Program -- $90 million

We request an increase in funding to $90 million for the base budget of the Chesapeake Bay Program, which coordinates Chesapeake Bay watershed restoration and protection efforts. More

than two-thirds of the program’s funds are passed through to the states and local communities for on-the-ground restoration work through the Small Watershed Grants, Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Grants, State Implementation Grants, Chesapeake Bay Regulatory and Accountability Program grants and local government grants. This would be the first increase in funding for the Chesapeake in six years - since a very modest 4% increase in FY15. We are advocating for an additional $17 million to go to the states, local governments and local entities to do on-the-ground restoration that will help the region move toward its clean up goals in 2025.

New data released by the Chesapeake Bay Program and confirmed by all of the states, indicates that there is an additional pollution load resulting from Conowingo Dam no longer trapping sediment and associated nutrient pollution. This “dynamic equilibrium” means that on average, an additional 6 million pounds of nitrogen and 260,000 pounds of phosphorus will now be entering the Bay every year. This was not the case in 2010 when the Chesapeake Bay total maximum daily load (TMDL) was established. All six Chesapeake Bay watershed states and the District of Columbia will have to make up for this added load by 2025, and increased funding will help to achieve this.

We strongly support the highly successful and popular Chesapeake Small Watershed Grants and the Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Grants – and request $9 million for each of these critical grant programs. These are two well-run, competitive grant programs that have contributed significantly to water quality improvements throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The demand for these grants far exceed the current funding levels by more than double. These grants go directly to on-the-ground restoration efforts by local governments and communities, including to family farms, and are critical to addressing the new increased pollution loadings from Conowingo Dam. 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 recognize the high priority that Congress has placed on these two grant programs for years and support the effort to get more federal funds on the ground at the local level.

We urge you to fund the Chesapeake Bay Program at $90 million in FY2020, and specify that $9 million of that amount be provided for Small Watershed Grants ($3 million more than in FY19) and $9 million be provided for Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Grants ($3 million more than in FY19). We also support additional funding of $5 million for Local Government Implementation Funding and $6 million for priority watersheds to address the additional pollution reductions that must be met over the next six years, due to the Conowingo Dam.

Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) --$5 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 the Clean Water SRF has eroded over the years as the clean water needs of local communities have increased dramatically. The Clean Water SRF is one of the funding components of the Clean Water Act to ensure that local governments have federal funding support for the Act’s mandates. 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 tripling 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 $5 billion funding level that would provide $1.07 billion in low interest loans to local governments in Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia – three times 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. These funds should be accompanied by federal technical assistance to help states raise awareness of green infrastructure’s benefits and build demand for green projects.

 

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, 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 triple the funding of the Clean Water SRF from FY19.

Department of the Interior

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) -- Chesapeake Ecosystem Science and Monitoring

 -- $12.85 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 in the Chesapeake Bay Program on issues related to fisheries and associated water quality, waterfowl and their habitats, and land protection.

In FY20, USGS, working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), will put a new focus on habitat conditions for commercial and recreational fisheries. USGS will focus on habitat conditions in the Bay watershed and NOAA on tidal estuaries. This will help state and federal agencies develop a more comprehensive approach to restore and protect fisheries. The comprehensive approach will better tie together Chesapeake Bay Program efforts to: (1) reduce nutrient and sediment pollution under the Bay total maximum daily load (TMDL); (2) mitigate the effects of toxic contaminants; and (3) improve stream and estuary habitats important for fisheries.

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. USGS is building from studies on black ducks, to identify important coastal areas for other waterfowl, and assess how those habitats are being impacted from sea-level rise and development. The USGS will work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, NOAA, and Maryland and Virginia state governments to apply findings to conserve and restore coastal wetlands and associated habitats.

The USGS will be supplying land-change forecasts to inform land protection. The USGS is providing customized forecasts to the National Park Service and the Chesapeake Conservation Partnership (CCP) of where development may impact healthy watersheds and vital lands across the watershed. The CCP is working with states and local land trusts to focus land protection based on the forecasts. 

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 -- $3.891 million

The National Park Service Chesapeake Bay Office has led efforts on 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 increased funding for the key program currently administered by the National Park Service Chesapeake Bay Office in the Chesapeake Bay watershed: Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Trails ($3.0 million). Since authorized by Congress in 1998, the Gateways program has been the primary Federal program tool to provide and enhance access to public lands within the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Gateways helps to preserve critical landscapes and natural resources in the region and has contributed over $16 million in technical and financial assistance for more than 300 projects in the Bay watershed. We urge you to increase funding for the Gateways program from $2.02 million in FY19 to $3 million in FY20. In addition, we urge continued support for coordinating programs through the National Park Service Chesapeake Bay Office ($495,000). In addition, as in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018, we urge you to extend the authorization for the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Trails program, specifically for two more years.

We also support continued funding for the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail at $396,000. We are, however, very concerned with the recent administrative transfer of this Historic Trail program from the National Park Service Chesapeake Bay Office to the Colonial National Historic Park in Virginia. The John Smith Trail was created by Congress in 2006 and the authorizing language is clear that the intent was for this program to be integrated into other efforts under the Chesapeake Bay Program, including the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Trails program, all of which is coordinated and administered by the Park Service Chesapeake Bay Office in Maryland. We urge Congress to reassert your intent that the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail be administered by the National Park Service Chesapeake Bay Office in Annapolis, Maryland, as it has been since 2007.

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 - $16.7705 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 more than 6,000 acres of 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) –

$750,000 (255 acres)

·       U.S Fish and Wildlife Service – Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge (VA) - $3 million (968 acres)

·       U.S. Forest Service – George Washington and Jefferson National Forests (VA) - $435,500 (144 acres)

·       U.S. Forest Service – George Washington and Jefferson National Forests (VA) - $4,285,000 (2,897 acres)

·       National Park Service – Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail (VA) - $5,000,000 (1,400 acres)

·       National Park Service –Richmond National Battlefield Park (VA) - $3,300,000 (380 acres)

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 peter@choosecleanwater.org with any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,


Action Together Northeastern Pennsylvania

Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay

Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley

American Chestnut Land Trust

American Rivers

Anacostia Riverkeeper

Anacostia Watershed Society

Annapolis Green

Arundel Rivers Federation

Audubon Maryland/DC

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

Butternut Valley Alliance

Cacapon Institute

Capital Region Land Conservancy

Catskill Mountainkeeper

Center for Progressive Reform

Chapman Forest Foundation

Chemung River Friends

Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Chesapeake Climate Action Network

Chesapeake Conservancy

Chesapeake Legal Alliance

Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage

Clean Fairfax

Clean Water Action

Clean Water Linganore 

Coalition for Smarter Growth

Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania

DC Environmental Network

Delaware Nature Society

Ducks Unlimited

Earth Conservation Corps

Earthworks

Earth Forum of Howard County

Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation

Eastern Shore Land Conservancy

Elizabeth River Project

Environmental Integrity Project

Environmental Justice Center of Chestnut Hill United Church

Environmental Working Group

Experience Learning

Float Fishermen of Virginia

Friends of Accotink Creek

Friends of Frederick County

Friends of Herring Run Park

Friends of Little Hunting Creek

Friends of Lower Beaverdam Creek

Friends of Quincy Run

Friends of Sligo Creek

Friends of the Bohemia

Friends of the Cacapon River

Friends of Dyke Marsh

Friends of the Middle River

Friends of the Nanticoke River

Friends of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River

Friends of the Rappahannock

Friends of St. Clements Bay

Goose Creek Association

Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake

James River Association

Lackawanna River Conservation Association

Lancaster Farmland Trust

Little Falls Watershed Alliance

Lower Shore Land Trust

Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper

Lynnhaven River NOW

Maryland Conservation Council

Maryland Environmental Health Network

Maryland League of Conservation Voters

Maryland Native Plant Society

Maryland Nonprofits

Maryland Science Center

Mattawoman Watershed Society

Mid-Atlantic Council Trout Unlimited

Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper

Muddy Branch Alliance

National Aquarium

National Parks Conservation Association

National Wildlife Federation

Natural Resources Defense Council

Nature Abounds

NeighborSpace of Baltimore County

New York League of Conservation Voters

New York State Council of Trout Unlimited

Neighbors of the Northwest Branch

Otsego County Conservation Association

Otsego Land Trust

Partnership for Smarter Growth

Patapsco Heritage Greenway

Patuxent Tidewater Land Trust 

PennEnvironment

PennFuture

Pennsylvania Council of Churches

Pennsylvania Council of Trout Unlimited

Piedmont Environmental Council

Potomac Conservancy

Potomac Riverkeeper

Potomac Riverkeeper Network

Potomac Valley Audubon Society

Queen Anne’s Conservation Association

Preservation Maryland

Rachel Carson Council

Restore America’s Estuaries

Rappahannock League for Environmental Protection

Richmond Audubon Society

Rivanna Conservation Alliance

St. Mary's River Watershed Association

Savage River Watershed Association

Severn River Association                                                                                                     

Shenandoah Riverkeeper Shenandoah Valley Network

ShoreRivers

Sidney Center Improvement Group

Sierra Club – Maryland Chapter

Sleepy Creek Watershed Association

Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project

Southern Environmental Law Center

Southern Maryland Audubon Society

SouthWings

Susquehanna Heritage

Talbot Preservation Alliance

The Downstream Project

Transition Howard County

Trash Free Maryland

Trout Unlimited

Upper Potomac Riverkeeper 

Upper Susquehanna Coalition

Virginia Association of Biological Farming

Virginia Conservation Network

Virginia League of Conservation Voters

Warm Springs Watershed Association

Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore, Inc.

Waterkeepers Chesapeake

West Virginia Citizen Action Group

West Virginia Environmental Council

West Virginia Highlands Conservancy

West Virginia Rivers Coalition

Wetlands Watch

Wicomico Environmental Trust


 

 

Senate Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies

Download letter here

March 4, 2019

 

The Honorable Jerry Moran, Chairman

Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies

Room S-128, Capitol

U.S Senate

Washington, D.C. 20510

 

The Honorable Jeanne Shaheen, Ranking Member

Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies

Room S-128, Capitol

U.S Senate

Washington, D.C. 20510

 

Dear Chairman Moran and Ranking Member Shaheen:

The undersigned members of the Choose Clean Water Coalition request continued support for programs that are essential to maintaining a healthy and vibrant Chesapeake Bay and a strong regional economy that is dependent on the Bay’s resources. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has a strong and long term presence in the Chesapeake Bay area, and its Chesapeake Bay Office coordinates their efforts with other federal agencies, state and local partners and users of the resource.

The programs that are run and/or coordinated by NOAA’s Chesapeake Bay Office (NCBO) are critical for the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem and for its users and residents. These programs provide the science and management assistance necessary for those whose livelihood is to ply the Bay’s waters for fish, crabs and oysters and to the hundreds of thousands of people who fish recreationally in the Bay every year and to the millions who boat, kayak, and/or view wildlife in the region.

NCBO is also critical for others, from students learning about science with hands-on experiences to local governments and residents along the shore to have the latest information to prepare for coastal flooding and hurricane emergencies.

Utilizing sound science in the management of Chesapeake Bay resources is critical for our regional economy. We request the following funding levels in Fiscal Year 2020:

Department of Commerce

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - National Marine Fisheries Service – Habitat Conservation and Restoration – Chesapeake Bay Office (NCBO) - $9.7 million

 

Chesapeake Bay Office (NCBO) - $9.7 million

The NCBO was established by Congress in 1992 to provide resources, technical assistance and coordination through its two branches: the Ecosystem Science and Synthesis Program, which focuses on applied research and monitoring in fisheries and aquatic habitats; synthesis, and analysis to describe and predict Bay ecosystem processes; and technical assistance to Chesapeake Bay decision makers.

 The second branch is Environmental Literacy and Partnerships Program, which focuses on the development of K-12 and higher education environmental science education programs; strategic partnerships with the Chesapeake Bay Program and other government, university, and nonprofit partners; and delivering NOAA products, services, and programs to targeted audiences.

The NCBO’s programs play a key role in implementing the voluntary Chesapeake Bay Agreement among the states and is critical to ensuring that commitments are met to:

·       restore native oyster habitat and populations in 10 tributaries by the year 2025;

·       ensure students graduate with the knowledge and skills to protect and restore their local watershed;

·       sustain a healthy blue crab and striped bass (rockfish) population;

·       maintain a coordinated watershed-wide monitoring and research program; and

·       adapt to climate change, including sea level rise and flooding.

The specific breakdown of our request for $9.7 million for the NCBO is as follows:

Oyster Restoration - $4 million

The Chesapeake Bay oyster population is less than 1 percent of historic levels and the ecosystem functions associated with oyster reefs, including fish habitat and nitrogen removal, are similarly diminished. NCBO continues to restore entire tributaries with self-sustaining oyster populations and to measure the resulting ecosystem benefits. NCBO works with federal, state and private partners to plan and implement this tributary-scale restoration in both Maryland and Virginia.

 

Recent studies by Morgan State University found that the economic multipliers associated with commercial and recreational fishing in three restored tributaries of the Choptank River are currently valued at $13 million annually for newly restored reefs and $26 million annually once the restored reefs are allowed to mature. In addition, research conducted in one of these tributaries, Harris Creek, by the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science found the reefs there are removing nitrogen and phosphorous from the water, providing a service valued at over $3 million annually. Preliminary research by NOAA has also found correlations between clearer water and increased submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) growth in areas where large-scale restoration has occurred when compared to similar unrestored areas. Protecting the existing restoration sites will allow these benefits to accrue and new restoration will enhance these benefits in more tributaries.

 

Funding for oyster restoration in the Chesapeake was also done through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, but they have not received funding in a number of years. Funding for this key program has eroded sharply since FY2010, and without Army Corps funds, NOAA is the only Federal agency left to continue this key restoration program.

 

Environmental Education and Literacy - $3.5 million

NCBO encourages and supports efforts in K-12 and higher education to develop and implement comprehensive environmental literacy programs. NCBO runs the nationally recognized Bay Watershed Education and Training Program (B-WET) - a competitive grant program for hands-on watershed education for students and teacher training to foster stewardship of the Chesapeake Bay. B-WETs funding has steadily eroded since 2010 and should be restored to at least that level. This $3.5 million would be a part of the larger national B-WET funding.

 

Fisheries Science - $1 million

Chesapeake fisheries contribute significantly to the economy and culture of the region.  In 2018 Maryland harvested just over 33 million pounds of blue crab with a dockside value of more than $53.7 million. Striped bass (rockfish) remain the most popular commercial and recreational finfish in the Bay, generating roughly $500 million in economic activity related to fishing expenditures, travel, lodging, and so on each year.  NCBO works with top academic institutions to provide science used to sustainably manage commercially and recreationally valuable species.  These efforts have been hampered by slowly eroding budgets, leaving NCBO without a single fishery biologist on staff, and this at a time when climate change is altering ecosystem conditions in ways that may impact commercial and recreational species and their prey in unknown ways.

 

Chesapeake Bay Interpretive Buoy System (CBIBS) – $1 million

Weather and water conditions on the Chesapeake Bay are constantly changing.  It is imperative that monitoring systems are in place to provide high quality data to understand, forecast, and develop decision support applications that aid maritime commerce, safety, and fishing activities.  CBIBS is maintained by NCBO and relays near real time weather and water information to the National Weather Service, boaters, pilots, and researchers. This is the only system monitoring wind and waves together in the mainstem of the Bay.  In addition, CBIBS plays a crucial role monitoring key aspects of the Bay’s health. Data from the buoys are used to track sediment plumes spilling into the Bay following storms, measure oxygen levels important to fish throughout the year and to forecast the distribution and severity of dangerous bacteria – information that is critical to successful aquaculture operations.

 

Climate and Resiliency - $200,000

NOAA and the U.S. Geological Survey lead implementing the climate resiliency goal for the Chesapeake Bay Program partnership. The NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office maintains a full-time climate resiliency specialist to coordinate all climate activities across the Chesapeake Bay Program, including activities such as monitoring for the impacts of sea level rise, coastal flooding, increased storm intensity and their effects on living resources and coastal communities.

 

Thank you for your consideration of these very important requests to maintain funding for programs that are critical to the health of the Chesapeake Bay and its natural resources. Please contact Peter J. Marx at 410-905-2515 or Peter@ChooseCleanWater.org with any questions or concerns.

 

Sincerely,

 


Action Together Northeastern Pennsylvania

Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay

Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley

American Chestnut Land Trust

American Rivers

Anacostia Riverkeeper

Anacostia Watershed Society

Annapolis Green

Arundel Rivers Federation

Audubon Maryland/DC

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

Butternut Valley Alliance

Cacapon Institute

Capital Region Land Conservancy

Catskill Mountainkeeper

Center for Progressive Reform

Chapman Forest Foundation

Chemung River Friends

Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Chesapeake Climate Action Network

Chesapeake Conservancy

Chesapeake Legal Alliance

Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage

Clean Fairfax

Clean Water Action

Clean Water Linganore 

Coalition for Smarter Growth

Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania

DC Environmental Network

Delaware Nature Society

Ducks Unlimited

Earth Conservation Corps

Earthworks

Earth Forum of Howard County

Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation

Eastern Shore Land Conservancy

Elizabeth River Project

Environmental Integrity Project

Environmental Justice Center of Chestnut Hill United Church

Environmental Working Group

Experience Learning

Float Fishermen of Virginia

Friends of Accotink Creek

Friends of Frederick County

Friends of Herring Run Park

Friends of Little Hunting Creek

Friends of Lower Beaverdam Creek

Friends of Quincy Run

Friends of Sligo Creek

Friends of the Bohemia

Friends of the Cacapon River

Friends of Dyke Marsh

Friends of the Middle River

Friends of the Nanticoke River

Friends of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River

Friends of the Rappahannock

Friends of St. Clements Bay

Goose Creek Association

Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake

James River Association

Lackawanna River Conservation Association

Lancaster Farmland Trust

Little Falls Watershed Alliance

Lower Shore Land Trust

Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper

Lynnhaven River NOW

Maryland Conservation Council

Maryland Environmental Health Network

Maryland League of Conservation Voters

Maryland Native Plant Society

Maryland Nonprofits

Maryland Science Center

Mattawoman Watershed Society

Mid-Atlantic Council Trout Unlimited

Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper

Muddy Branch Alliance

National Aquarium

National Parks Conservation Association

National Wildlife Federation

Natural Resources Defense Council

Nature Abounds

NeighborSpace of Baltimore County

New York League of Conservation Voters

New York State Council of Trout Unlimited

Neighbors of the Northwest Branch

Otsego County Conservation Association

Otsego Land Trust

Partnership for Smarter Growth

Patapsco Heritage Greenway

Patuxent Tidewater Land Trust 

PennEnvironment

PennFuture

Pennsylvania Council of Churches

Pennsylvania Council of Trout Unlimited

Piedmont Environmental Council

Potomac Conservancy

Potomac Riverkeeper

Potomac Riverkeeper Network

Potomac Valley Audubon Society

Queen Anne’s Conservation Association

Preservation Maryland

Rachel Carson Council

Restore America’s Estuaries

Rappahannock League for Environmental Protection

Richmond Audubon Society

Rivanna Conservation Alliance

Rock Creek Conservancy       

St. Mary's River Watershed Association

Savage River Watershed Association

Severn River Association

Shenandoah Riverkeeper Shenandoah Valley Network

ShoreRivers

Sidney Center Improvement Group

Sierra Club – Maryland Chapter

Sleepy Creek Watershed Association

Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project

Southern Maryland Audubon Society

SouthWings

Susquehanna Heritage

Talbot Preservation Alliance

The Downstream Project

Transition Howard County

Trash Free Maryland

Trout Unlimited

Upper Potomac Riverkeeper 

Upper Susquehanna Coalition

Virginia Association of Biological Farming

Virginia Conservation Network

Virginia League of Conservation Voters

Warm Springs Watershed Association

Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore, Inc.

Waterkeepers Chesapeake

West Virginia Citizen Action Group

West Virginia Environmental Council

West Virginia Highlands Conservancy

West Virginia Rivers Coalition

Wetlands Watch

Wicomico Environmental Trust


 

House Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies

Download letter here.

March 4, 2019

 

The Honorable Sanford Bishop, Jr., Chairman
Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration
and Related Agencies
Committee on Appropriations
2362-A Rayburn House Office Building
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Jeff Fortenberry, Ranking Minority Member
Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration
and Related Agencies
Committee on Appropriations
1016 Longworth House Office Building
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

 

Dear Chairman Bishop and Ranking Member Fortenberry:

The undersigned members of the Choose Clean Water Coalition request continued support for clean water in the Chesapeake Bay watershed through fully funding the conservation programs of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill). There are 83,000 farms in the six-state Chesapeake region and they are critical to the economy - responsible for more than $10 billion of agricultural production each year. After forests, agriculture is the largest land use in the watershed.

The 2018 Farm Bill, which we strongly supported, should, if fully implemented and funded, ensure that well run, responsible farms in the Chesapeake region remain economically viable. The Conservation Title of the 2018 Farm Bill is also critical to maintain and restore clean water to the rivers and streams throughout the Chesapeake region, and for the Bay itself. These programs are essential for regulated agricultural operations to meet federal requirements under the Clean Water Act and help farmers meet state regulations that address both farm health and water quality.

 

We urge you to maintain full funding for mandatory agricultural conservation programs in Fiscal Year 2020. The 2018 Farm Bill made a number of improvements to key programs, and should accelerate our path toward clean water in our region, but only if these conservation programs are funded as Congress intended. With the support of much of the conservation community and clean water advocates, the 2018 Farm Bill maintained level funding for the Conservation Title.

Two-thirds of the 18 million people in the Chesapeake 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. Much of the work and funding necessary to achieve and maintain clean and healthy water in this region would be accomplished through the Farm Bill’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).  We urge you to provide full funding, $300 million for the RCPP. The Chesapeake Bay Watershed is one of eight Critical Conservation Areas under the RCPP, and this program is vital for our region’s farms and waterways.

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is also a key conservation program for our region’s farmers, and we urge you to provide full funding for FY20 at $1.75 billion. Historically, EQIP has been the primary financial assistance program for conservation in the Chesapeake Bay region.

All six Chesapeake Bay watershed states have participated in the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), and this program is the key to restoring riparian buffers that are critical for water quality and wildlife habitat. The 2018 Farm Bill codified CREP and we urge you to ensure that the U.S. Department of Agriculture fully enrolls CREP acres based on the new provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill.

 

In order to follow a common sense path to maintain economically viable well run farms and to have healthy local water and a restored Chesapeake Bay, which is critical for our regional economy, we request full funding for all conservation programs in the Farm Bill for Fiscal Year 2020.

Thank you for your consideration on this very important request to maintain funding for these programs which are critical to both our agricultural community and for clean water throughout the mid-Atlantic region. Please contact Peter J. Marx at 410-905-2515 or peter@choosecleanwater.org with any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

Action Together Northeastern Pennsylvania

Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay

Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley

American Chestnut Land Trust

American Rivers

Anacostia Riverkeeper

Anacostia Watershed Society

Annapolis Green

Arundel Rivers Federation

Audubon Maryland/DC

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

Butternut Valley Alliance

Cacapon Institute

Capital Region Land Conservancy

Catskill Mountainkeeper

Center for Progressive Reform

Chapman Forest Foundation

Chemung River Friends

Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Chesapeake Climate Action Network

Chesapeake Conservancy

Chesapeake Legal Alliance

Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage

Clean Fairfax

Clean Water Action

Clean Water Linganore 

Coalition for Smarter Growth

Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania
DC Environmental Network

Defenders of Wildlife

Delaware Nature Society

Ducks Unlimited

Earth Conservation Corps

Earthworks

Earth Forum of Howard County

Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation

Eastern Shore Land Conservancy

Elizabeth River Project

Environmental Integrity Project

Environmental Justice Center of Chestnut Hill
United Church
Environmental Working Group

Experience Learning
Float Fishermen of Virginia

Friends of Accotink Creek

Friends of Frederick County

Friends of Herring Run Park

Friends of Little Hunting Creek

Friends of Lower Beaverdam Creek

Friends of Quincy Run

Friends of Sligo Creek

Friends of the Bohemia

Friends of the Cacapon River

Friends of Dyke Marsh

Friends of the Middle River

Friends of the Nanticoke River

Friends of the North Fork of the Shenandoah                     River

Friends of the Rappahannock

Friends of St. Clements Bay

Goose Creek Association

Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake

James River Association

Lackawanna River Conservation Association

Lancaster Farmland Trust

Little Falls Watershed Alliance

Lower Shore Land Trust

Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper

Lynnhaven River NOW

Maryland Conservation Council

Maryland Environmental Health Network

Maryland League of Conservation Voters

Maryland Native Plant Society

Maryland Nonprofits

Maryland Science Center

Mattawoman Watershed Society

Mid-Atlantic Council Trout Unlimited

Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper

Muddy Branch Alliance

National Aquarium

National Parks Conservation Association

National Wildlife Federation

Natural Resources Defense Council

Nature Abounds

NeighborSpace of Baltimore County

New York League of Conservation Voters

New York State Council of Trout Unlimited

Neighbors of the Northwest Branch

Otsego County Conservation Association

Otsego Land Trust

Partnership for Smarter Growth

Patapsco Heritage Greenway

Patuxent Tidewater Land Trust 

PennEnvironment

PennFuture

Pennsylvania Council of Churches

Pennsylvania Council of Trout Unlimited

Piedmont Environmental Council

Potomac Conservancy

Potomac Riverkeeper

Potomac Riverkeeper Network

Potomac Valley Audubon Society

Queen Anne’s Conservation Association

Preservation Maryland

Rachel Carson Council

Restore America’s Estuaries

Rappahannock League for Environmental Protection

Richmond Audubon Society

Rivanna Conservation Alliance

St. Mary's River Watershed Association

Savage River Watershed Association

Severn River Association

Shenandoah Riverkeeper Shenandoah Valley Network

ShoreRivers

Sidney Center Improvement Group

Sierra Club – Maryland Chapter

Sleepy Creek Watershed Association

Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project

Southern Maryland Audubon Society

SouthWings

Susquehanna Heritage

Talbot Preservation Alliance

The Downstream Project

Transition Howard County

Trout Unlimited

Upper Potomac Riverkeeper 

Virginia Association of Biological Farming

Virginia Conservation Network

Virginia League of Conservation Voters

Warm Springs Watershed Association

Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore, Inc.

Waterkeepers Chesapeake

West Virginia Citizen Action Group

West Virginia Environmental Council

West Virginia Highlands Conservancy

West Virginia Rivers Coalition

Wetlands Watch

Wicomico Environmental Trust


 

 

House Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies

Download letter here

March 4, 2019

 

The Honorable Betty McCollum, Chair
Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies
2007 Rayburn House Office Building
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

 

The Honorable David Joyce, Ranking Minority Member
Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies
1016 Longworth House Office Building
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

 

Dear Chair McCollum and Ranking Member Joyce:

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.

Over the past decade the states and the federal government have cooperated jointly and committed to a massive restoration program in the Bay watershed to restore the Bay and its tributaries by 2025. None of these goals can be met without the leadership, guidance, science and funding support provided by various Federal agencies. A lot of progress has been made, and as we enter the final few years approaching the 2025 deadlines, this is not the time to slow down the premier estuarine restoration effort in the world.

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 2020:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Chesapeake Bay Program -- $90 million

We request an increase in funding to $90 million for the base budget of the Chesapeake Bay Program, which coordinates Chesapeake Bay watershed restoration and protection efforts. More than two-thirds of the program’s funds are passed through to the states and local communities for

on-the-ground restoration work through the Small Watershed Grants, Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Grants, State Implementation Grants, Chesapeake Bay Regulatory and Accountability Program grants and local government grants. This would be the first increase in funding for the Chesapeake in six years - since a very modest 4% increase in FY15. We are advocating for an additional $17 million to go to the states, local governments and local entities to do on-the-ground restoration that will help the region move toward its clean up goals in 2025.

New data released by the Chesapeake Bay Program and confirmed by all of the states, indicates that there is an additional pollution load resulting from Conowingo Dam no longer trapping sediment and associated nutrient pollution. This “dynamic equilibrium” means that on average, an additional 6 million pounds of nitrogen and 260,000 pounds of phosphorus will now be entering the Bay every year. This was not the case in 2010 when the Chesapeake Bay total maximum daily load (TMDL) was established. All six Chesapeake Bay watershed states and the District of Columbia will have to make up for this added load by 2025, and increased funding will help to achieve this.

We strongly support the highly successful and popular Chesapeake Small Watershed Grants and the Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Grants – and request $9 million for each of these critical grant programs. These are two well-run, competitive grant programs that have contributed significantly to water quality improvements throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The demand for these grants far exceed the current funding levels by more than double. These grants go directly to on-the-ground restoration efforts by local governments and communities, including to family farms, and are critical to addressing the new increased pollution loadings from Conowingo Dam. 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 recognize the high priority that Congress has placed on these two grant programs for years and support the effort to get more federal funds on the ground at the local level.

We urge you to fund the Chesapeake Bay Program at $90 million in FY2020, and specify that $9 million of that amount be provided for Small Watershed Grants ($3 million more than in FY19) and $9 million be provided for Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Grants ($3 million more than in FY19). We also support additional funding of $5 million for Local Government Implementation Funding and $6 million for priority watersheds to address the additional pollution reductions that must be met over the next six years, due to the Conowingo Dam.

Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) --$5 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 the Clean Water SRF has eroded over the years as the clean water needs of local communities have increased dramatically. The Clean Water SRF is one of the funding components of the Clean Water Act to ensure that local governments have federal funding support for the Act’s mandates. 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 tripling 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 $5 billion funding level that would provide $1.07 billion in low interest loans to local governments in Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia – three times 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. These funds should be accompanied by federal technical assistance to help states raise awareness of green infrastructure’s benefits and build demand for green projects.

 

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, 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 triple the funding of the Clean Water SRF from FY19.

Department of the Interior

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) -- Chesapeake Ecosystem Science and Monitoring

 -- $12.85 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 in the Chesapeake Bay Program on issues related to fisheries and associated water quality, waterfowl and their habitats, and land protection.

In FY20, USGS, working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), will put a new focus on habitat conditions for commercial and recreational fisheries. USGS will focus on habitat conditions in the Bay watershed and NOAA on tidal estuaries. This will help state and federal agencies develop a more comprehensive approach to restore and protect fisheries. The comprehensive approach will better tie together Chesapeake Bay Program efforts to: (1) reduce nutrient and sediment pollution under the Bay total maximum daily load (TMDL); (2) mitigate the effects of toxic contaminants; and (3) improve stream and estuary habitats important for fisheries.

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. USGS is building from studies on black ducks, to identify important coastal areas for other waterfowl, and assess how those habitats are being impacted from sea-level rise and development. The USGS will work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, NOAA, and Maryland and Virginia state governments to apply findings to conserve and restore coastal wetlands and associated habitats.

The USGS will be supplying land-change forecasts to inform land protection. The USGS is providing customized forecasts to the National Park Service and the Chesapeake Conservation Partnership (CCP) of where development may impact healthy watersheds and vital lands across the watershed. The CCP is working with states and local land trusts to focus land protection based on the forecasts. 

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 -- $3.891 million

The National Park Service Chesapeake Bay Office has led efforts on 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 increased funding for the key program currently administered by the National Park Service Chesapeake Bay Office in the Chesapeake Bay watershed: Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Trails ($3.0 million). Since authorized by Congress in 1998, the Gateways program has been the primary Federal program tool to provide and enhance access to public lands within the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Gateways helps to preserve critical landscapes and natural resources in the region and has contributed over $16 million in technical and financial assistance for more than 300 projects in the Bay watershed. We urge you to increase funding for the Gateways program from $2.02 million in FY19 to $3 million in FY20. In addition, we urge continued support for coordinating programs through the National Park Service Chesapeake Bay Office ($495,000). In addition, as in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018, we urge you to extend the authorization for the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Trails program, specifically for two more years.

We also support continued funding for the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail at $396,000. We are, however, very concerned with the recent administrative transfer of this Historic Trail program from the National Park Service Chesapeake Bay Office to the Colonial National Historic Park in Virginia. The John Smith Trail was created by Congress in 2006 and the authorizing language is clear that the intent was for this program to be integrated into other efforts under the Chesapeake Bay Program, including the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Trails program, all of which is coordinated and administered by the Park Service Chesapeake Bay Office in Maryland. We urge Congress to reassert your intent that the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail be administered by the National Park Service Chesapeake Bay Office in Annapolis, Maryland, as it has been since 2007.

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 - $16.7705 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 more than 6,000 acres of 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) –

$750,000 (255 acres)

·       U.S Fish and Wildlife Service – Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge (VA) - $3 million (968 acres)

·       U.S. Forest Service – George Washington and Jefferson National Forests (VA) - $435,500 (144 acres)

·       U.S. Forest Service – George Washington and Jefferson National Forests (VA) - $4,285,000 (2,897 acres)

·       National Park Service – Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail (VA) - $5,000,000 (1,400 acres)

·       National Park Service –Richmond National Battlefield Park (VA) - $3,300,000 (380 acres)

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 peter@choosecleanwater.org with any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

Action Together Northeastern Pennsylvania

Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay

Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley

American Chestnut Land Trust

American Rivers

Anacostia Riverkeeper

Anacostia Watershed Society

Annapolis Green

Arundel Rivers Federation

Audubon Maryland/DC

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

Butternut Valley Alliance

Cacapon Institute

Capital Region Land Conservancy

Catskill Mountainkeeper

Center for Progressive Reform

Chapman Forest Foundation

Chemung River Friends

Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Chesapeake Climate Action Network

Chesapeake Conservancy

Chesapeake Legal Alliance

Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage

Clean Fairfax

Clean Water Action

Clean Water Linganore 

Coalition for Smarter Growth

Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania

DC Environmental Network

Delaware Nature Society

Ducks Unlimited

Earth Conservation Corps

Earthworks

Earth Forum of Howard County

Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation

Eastern Shore Land Conservancy

Elizabeth River Project

Environmental Integrity Project

Environmental Justice Center of Chestnut Hill United Church

Environmental Working Group

Experience Learning

Float Fishermen of Virginia

Friends of Accotink Creek

Friends of Frederick County

Friends of Herring Run Park

Friends of Little Hunting Creek

Friends of Lower Beaverdam Creek

Friends of Quincy Run

Friends of Sligo Creek

Friends of the Bohemia

Friends of the Cacapon River

Friends of Dyke Marsh

Friends of the Middle River

Friends of the Nanticoke River

Friends of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River

Friends of the Rappahannock

Friends of St. Clements Bay

Goose Creek Association

Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake

James River Association

Lackawanna River Conservation Association

Lancaster Farmland Trust

Little Falls Watershed Alliance

Lower Shore Land Trust

Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper

Lynnhaven River NOW

Maryland Conservation Council

Maryland Environmental Health Network

Maryland League of Conservation Voters

Maryland Native Plant Society

Maryland Nonprofits

Maryland Science Center

Mattawoman Watershed Society

Mid-Atlantic Council Trout Unlimited

Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper

Muddy Branch Alliance

National Aquarium

National Parks Conservation Association

National Wildlife Federation

Natural Resources Defense Council

Nature Abounds

NeighborSpace of Baltimore County

New York League of Conservation Voters

New York State Council of Trout Unlimited

Neighbors of the Northwest Branch

Otsego County Conservation Association

Otsego Land Trust

Partnership for Smarter Growth

Patapsco Heritage Greenway

Patuxent Tidewater Land Trust 

PennEnvironment

PennFuture

Pennsylvania Council of Churches

Pennsylvania Council of Trout Unlimited

Piedmont Environmental Council

Potomac Conservancy

Potomac Riverkeeper

Potomac Riverkeeper Network

Potomac Valley Audubon Society

Queen Anne’s Conservation Association

Preservation Maryland

Rachel Carson Council

Restore America’s Estuaries

Rappahannock League for Environmental Protection

Richmond Audubon Society

Rivanna Conservation Alliance

St. Mary's River Watershed Association

Savage River Watershed Association

Severn River Association                                                                                                     

Shenandoah Riverkeeper Shenandoah Valley Network

ShoreRivers

Sidney Center Improvement Group

Sierra Club – Maryland Chapter

Sleepy Creek Watershed Association

Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project

Southern Environmental Law Center

Southern Maryland Audubon Society

SouthWings

Susquehanna Heritage

Talbot Preservation Alliance

The Downstream Project

Transition Howard County

Trash Free Maryland

Trout Unlimited

Upper Potomac Riverkeeper 

Upper Susquehanna Coalition

Virginia Association of Biological Farming

Virginia Conservation Network

Virginia League of Conservation Voters

Warm Springs Watershed Association

Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore, Inc.

Waterkeepers Chesapeake

West Virginia Citizen Action Group

West Virginia Environmental Council

West Virginia Highlands Conservancy

West Virginia Rivers Coalition

Wetlands Watch

Wicomico Environmental Trust


 

 

House Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies

Download the letter here

March 4, 2019

The Honorable José Serrano, Chairman
Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies
H-310 The Capitol
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Robert Aderholt, Ranking Minority Member
Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies
1016 Longworth House Office Building
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Chairman Serrano and Ranking Member Aderholt:

The undersigned members of the Choose Clean Water Coalition request continued support for programs that are essential to maintaining a healthy and vibrant Chesapeake Bay and a strong regional economy that is dependent on the Bay’s resources. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has a strong and long term presence in the Chesapeake Bay area, and its Chesapeake Bay Office coordinates their efforts with other federal agencies, state and local partners and users of the resource.

The programs that are run and/or coordinated by NOAA’s Chesapeake Bay Office (NCBO) are critical for the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem and for its users and residents. These programs provide the science and management assistance necessary for those whose livelihood is to ply the Bay’s waters for fish, crabs and oysters and to the hundreds of thousands of people who fish recreationally in the Bay every year and to the millions who boat, kayak, and/or view wildlife in the region.

NCBO is also critical for others, from students learning about science with hands-on experiences to local governments and residents along the shore to have the latest information to prepare for coastal flooding and hurricane emergencies.

Utilizing sound science in the management of Chesapeake Bay resources is critical for our regional economy. We request the following funding levels in Fiscal Year 2020:

Department of Commerce

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - National Marine Fisheries Service – Habitat Conservation and Restoration – Chesapeake Bay Office (NCBO) - $9.7 million

Chesapeake Bay Office (NCBO) - $9.7 million

The NCBO was established by Congress in 1992 to provide resources, technical assistance and coordination through its two branches: the Ecosystem Science and Synthesis Program, which focuses on applied research and monitoring in fisheries and aquatic habitats; synthesis, and analysis to describe and predict Bay ecosystem processes; and technical assistance to Chesapeake Bay decision makers.

The second branch is Environmental Literacy and Partnerships Program, which focuses on the development of K-12 and higher education environmental science education programs; strategic partnerships with the Chesapeake Bay Program and other government, university, and nonprofit partners; and delivering NOAA products, services, and programs to targeted audiences.

The NCBO’s programs play a key role in implementing the voluntary Chesapeake Bay Agreement among the states and is critical to ensuring that commitments are met to:

· restore native oyster habitat and populations in 10 tributaries by the year 2025;

· ensure students graduate with the knowledge and skills to protect and restore their local watershed;

· sustain a healthy blue crab and striped bass (rockfish) population;

· maintain a coordinated watershed-wide monitoring and research program; and

· adapt to climate change, including sea level rise and flooding.

The specific breakdown of our request for $9.7 million for the NCBO is as follows:

Oyster Restoration - $4 million

The Chesapeake Bay oyster population is less than 1 percent of historic levels and the ecosystem functions associated with oyster reefs, including fish habitat and nitrogen removal, are similarly diminished. NCBO continues to restore entire tributaries with self-sustaining oyster populations and to measure the resulting ecosystem benefits. NCBO works with federal, state and private partners to plan and implement this tributary-scale restoration in both Maryland and Virginia.

Recent studies by Morgan State University found that the economic multipliers associated with commercial and recreational fishing in three restored tributaries of the Choptank River are currently valued at $13 million annually for newly restored reefs and $26 million annually once the restored reefs are allowed to mature. In addition, research conducted in one of these tributaries, Harris Creek, by the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science found the reefs there are removing nitrogen and phosphorous from the water, providing a service valued at over $3 million annually. Preliminary research by NOAA has also found correlations between clearer water and increased submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) growth in areas where large-scale restoration has occurred when compared to similar unrestored areas. Protecting the existing restoration sites will allow these benefits to accrue and new restoration will enhance these benefits in more tributaries.

Funding for oyster restoration in the Chesapeake was also done through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, but they have not received funding in a number of years. Funding for this key program has eroded sharply since FY2010, and without Army Corps funds, NOAA is the only Federal agency left to continue this key restoration program.

Environmental Education and Literacy - $3.5 million

NCBO encourages and supports efforts in K-12 and higher education to develop and implement comprehensive environmental literacy programs. NCBO runs the nationally recognized Bay Watershed Education and Training Program (B-WET) - a competitive grant program for hands-on watershed education for students and teacher training to foster stewardship of the Chesapeake Bay. B-WETs funding has steadily eroded since 2010 and should be restored to at least that level. This $3.5 million would be a part of the larger national B-WET funding.

Fisheries Science - $1 million

Chesapeake fisheries contribute significantly to the economy and culture of the region. In 2018 Maryland harvested just over 33 million pounds of blue crab with a dockside value of more than $53.7 million. Striped bass (rockfish) remain the most popular commercial and recreational finfish in the Bay, generating roughly $500 million in economic activity related to fishing expenditures, travel, lodging, and so on each year. NCBO works with top academic institutions to provide science used to sustainably manage commercially and recreationally valuable species. These efforts have been hampered by slowly eroding budgets, leaving NCBO without a single fishery biologist on staff, and this at a time when climate change is altering ecosystem conditions in ways that may impact commercial and recreational species and their prey in unknown ways.

Chesapeake Bay Interpretive Buoy System (CBIBS) – $1 million

Weather and water conditions on the Chesapeake Bay are constantly changing. It is imperative that monitoring systems are in place to provide high quality data to understand, forecast, and develop decision support applications that aid maritime commerce, safety, and fishing activities. CBIBS is maintained by NCBO and relays near real time weather and water information to the National Weather Service, boaters, pilots, and researchers. This is the only system monitoring wind and waves together in the mainstem of the Bay. In addition, CBIBS plays a crucial role monitoring key aspects of the Bay’s health. Data from the buoys are used to track sediment plumes spilling into the Bay following storms, measure oxygen levels important to fish throughout the year and to forecast the distribution and severity of dangerous bacteria – information that is critical to successful aquaculture operations.

Climate and Resiliency - $200,000

NOAA and the U.S. Geological Survey lead implementing the climate resiliency goal for the Chesapeake Bay Program partnership. The NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office maintains a full-time climate resiliency specialist to coordinate all climate activities across the Chesapeake Bay Program, including activities such as monitoring for the impacts of sea level rise, coastal flooding, increased storm intensity and their effects on living resources and coastal communities.

Thank you for your consideration of these very important requests to maintain funding for programs that are critical to the health of the Chesapeake Bay and its natural resources. Please contact Peter J. Marx at 410-905-2515 or Peter@ChooseCleanWater.org with any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,


Action Together Northeastern Pennsylvania

Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay

Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley

American Chestnut Land Trust

American Rivers

Anacostia Riverkeeper

Anacostia Watershed Society

Annapolis Green

Arundel Rivers Federation

Audubon Maryland/DC

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

Butternut Valley Alliance

Cacapon Institute

Capital Region Land Conservancy

Catskill Mountainkeeper

Center for Progressive Reform

Chapman Forest Foundation

Chemung River Friends

Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Chesapeake Climate Action Network

Chesapeake Conservancy

Chesapeake Legal Alliance

Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage

Clean Fairfax

Clean Water Action

Clean Water Linganore

Coalition for Smarter Growth

Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania

DC Environmental Network

Delaware Nature Society

Ducks Unlimited

Earth Conservation Corps

Earthworks

Earth Forum of Howard County

Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation

Eastern Shore Land Conservancy

Elizabeth River Project

Environmental Integrity Project

Environmental Justice Center of Chestnut Hill

United Church

Environmental Working Group

Experience Learning

Float Fishermen of Virginia

Friends of Accotink Creek

Friends of Frederick County

Friends of Herring Run Park

Friends of Little Hunting Creek

Friends of Lower Beaverdam Creek

Friends of Quincy Run

Friends of Sligo Creek

Friends of the Bohemia

Friends of the Cacapon River

Friends of Dyke Marsh

Friends of the Middle River

Friends of the Nanticoke River

Friends of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River

Friends of the Rappahannock

Friends of St. Clements Bay

Goose Creek Association

Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake

James River Association

Lackawanna River Conservation Association

Lancaster Farmland Trust

Little Falls Watershed Alliance

Lower Shore Land Trust

Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper

Lynnhaven River NOW

Maryland Conservation Council

Maryland Environmental Health Network

Maryland League of Conservation Voters

Maryland Native Plant Society

Maryland Nonprofits

Maryland Science Center

Mattawoman Watershed Society

Mid-Atlantic Council Trout Unlimited

Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper

Muddy Branch Alliance

National Aquarium

National Parks Conservation Association

National Wildlife Federation

Natural Resources Defense Council

Nature Abounds

NeighborSpace of Baltimore County

New York League of Conservation Voters

New York State Council of Trout Unlimited

Neighbors of the Northwest Branch

Otsego County Conservation Association

Otsego Land Trust

Partnership for Smarter Growth

Patapsco Heritage Greenway

Patuxent Tidewater Land Trust

PennEnvironment

PennFuture

Pennsylvania Council of Churches

Pennsylvania Council of Trout Unlimited

Piedmont Environmental Council

Potomac Conservancy

Potomac Riverkeeper

Potomac Riverkeeper Network

Potomac Valley Audubon Society

Queen Anne’s Conservation Association

Preservation Maryland

Rachel Carson Council

Restore America’s Estuaries

Rappahannock League for Environmental Protection

Richmond Audubon Society

Rivanna Conservation Alliance

Rock Creek Conservancy

St. Mary's River Watershed Association

Savage River Watershed Association

Severn River Association

Shenandoah Riverkeeper Shenandoah Valley Network

ShoreRivers

Sidney Center Improvement Group

Sierra Club – Maryland Chapter

Sleepy Creek Watershed Association

Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project

Southern Maryland Audubon Society

SouthWings

Susquehanna Heritage

Talbot Preservation Alliance

The Downstream Project

Transition Howard County

Trash Free Maryland

Trout Unlimited

Upper Potomac Riverkeeper

Upper Susquehanna Coalition

Virginia Association of Biological Farming

Virginia Conservation Network

Virginia League of Conservation Voters

Warm Springs Watershed Association

Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore, Inc.

Waterkeepers Chesapeake

West Virginia Citizen Action Group

West Virginia Environmental Council

West Virginia Highlands Conservancy

West Virginia Rivers Coalition

Wetlands Watch

Wicomico Environmental Trust


NEPA

August 20, 2018

Submitted via Regulations.gov

Mary B. Neumayr
Chief of Staff
Council on Environmental Quality
730 Jackson Place, N.W.
Washington, DC  20503

Re:      Docket No. CEQ-2018-0001, Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM), Update to the Regulations for Implementing the Procedural Provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act

Dear Ms. Neumayr:

The undersigned members of the Choose Clean Water Coalition urge the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) to withdraw the ANPRM and retain the existing CEQ regulations implementing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The CEQ regulations establish common sense procedures and definitions that continue to serve the Chesapeake Bay watershed and the nation well. Changes to the regulations are unnecessary and would create significant inefficiencies and delays by upending decades of well-settled requirements and approaches.  

The Choose Clean Water Coalition spans the six states, Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia that make up the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The coalition’s members range in size and scope from national to regional to the most local level, but share the vision of vibrant clean rivers and streams in all of the Chesapeake region’s communities. One of the main objectives of the coalition is to uphold bedrock environmental laws that protect our waterways, including NEPA.

 

The Choose Clean Water Coalition has a key interest in ensuring that the NEPA environmental review process works well. NEPA is the fundamental tool for ensuring proper vetting of the impacts of major federal projects on waterways and communities, for identifying less environmentally damaging alternatives, and for giving the public a voice on impactful federal actions. NEPA improves project planning, including reducing adverse environmental impacts of federal actions and by improving the quality of federal restoration projects. In this vein, we urge CEQ to withdraw the ANPRM.  Instead of considering or conducting a rewrite of the NEPA regulations, CEQ should instead undertake a systematic initiative to enforce the existing regulations. CEQ should also use its leadership role to ensure that agencies have the resources, training, and leadership needed to properly implement NEPA.

Comments

The existing NEPA regulations establish a uniform approach to efficiently implementing NEPA’s important goals and requirements through common sense procedures and definitions that, among other things, ensure meaningful opportunities to engage the public and other federal, state, tribal and local agencies in the NEPA process. Congress enacted NEPA to “declare a national policy which will encourage productive and enjoyable harmony between man and his environment; to promote efforts which will prevent or eliminate damage to the environment and biosphere and stimulate the health and welfare of man; to enrich the understanding of the ecological systems and natural resources important to the Nation; and to establish a Council on Environmental Quality.”[1]

These regulations were carefully developed with significant public input; they were the product of extensive public involvement and receptivity to the concerns of all involved segments of American society. When finalized in 1978, they were greeted with praise from a range of stakeholders, from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to the National Governors Association to the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club.[2] That inclusive process is in part responsible for the regulations having existed for four decades and through the administrations of seven Presidents with only one substantive amendment to one section.

Because of this, changes to the existing CEQ NEPA regulations are unnecessary. Any such changes would also be unwise. They would undermine the efficiency of the NEPA process by upending decades of well-settled requirements and approaches. NEPA has existed for forty years, wherein it has faced judicial review that militates in favor of keeping changes to the regulations to necessary minimums. There exists nationwide judicial experience with the law and the regulations which substantive changes can only undo. New provisions can only lead to new and expanded litigation. Several courts have stated the importance of NEPA, like “NEPA is more than a technical statute of administrative procedure. It is a commitment to the preservation of our natural environment. The statute’s language conveys the urgency of that task.”[3] Further, any amendments that are made must be adopted through the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) notice and comment provisions so as to preserve the “substantial deference” which the Supreme Court has accorded them.[4]

CEQ developed the regulations to provide a uniform approach to promote decision-making that reflects the policies set forth in NEPA and to include the public and other federal, state, tribal and local agencies in that process. The regulations reflect decades of case law developed through the federal courts, as discussed above. Additionally, the regulations reflect a concerted effort to expedite the process without losing either substantive value or public involvement. Because of this concerted effort, we believe that changes to any of the CEQ NEPA regulations are unwarranted. We highlight in particular the following three regulations that should remain intact because they are fundamental to the importance of NEPA:

  • Actions causing environmental impact should not be exempted from NEPA.

    • The Supreme Court has found that the preparation of an environmental impact statement promotes NEPA’s broad environmental objectives in two primary ways: “It ensures that the agency, in reaching its decision, will have available, and will carefully consider, detailed information concerning significant environmental impacts; it also guarantees that the relevant information will be made available to the larger audience that may also play a role in both the decision-making process and the implementation of that decision.”[5]

  • The requirement to fully examine alternatives should not be eliminated.

    • The statute calls for a consideration of alternatives, stressing its importance as NEPA is not intended to just be an accounting of the impacts of something proposed, but an examination of other ways to meet a purpose and need that could have fewer impacts and often lower economic costs. The regulation (§ 1502.14) regarding alternatives has, since its promulgation, been central in ensuring that agencies rigorously explore reasonable alternatives and make informed choices. It is thorough and effective and should not be changed. Altering it would almost certainly weaken NEPA and have a deleterious impact on wildlife and the environment by allowing agencies to avoid adequately and rigorously exploring less impactful ways to meet the purpose and need and to avoid asking the critically important and basic question of whether no action would be a wiser course of action.

  • The public’s input into the NEPA process should not be reduced.

    • It is important to note that “[C]onsideration of the impacts of proposed government actions on the quality of the human environment is essential to responsible government decision-making. Government projects and programs have effects on the environment with important consequences for every American, and those impacts should be carefully weighed by public officials before taking action. Environmental impact analysis is thus not an impediment to responsible government action; it is a prerequisite for it.[6]

Last, the NEPA review process has been a critical component to the protection of the Chesapeake Bay over the last forty years. Numerous organizations - and members of the public - have actively engaged in the NEPA processes for the Intercounty Connector, Chesapeake Bay Crossing Study (a two-tiered Environmental Impact Statement) and countless other Environmental Impact Statements for major federal actions affecting the Bay. 

In 2008, the Mid-Atlantic Power Pathway (MAPP) was proposed by Pepco. This 152-mile extra-high voltage transmission line would have extended from Possum Point, VA to Southern Maryland under the Chesapeake Bay, and across the lower Eastern Shore into Southern Delaware. There were major environmental concerns related to this project as MAPP would have been the first time transmission cables crossed the Chesapeake Bay from shore to shore, impacting fish species and causing other disturbances to the Bay. When Pepco filed for a loan from the federal government, this triggered the need for an Environmental Impact Statement under NEPA. There were public hearings where residents voiced their concerns and also proposed alternatives to this project. As the public became more and more opposed to the project, elected officials began to ask questions and Pepco reneged. The project was cancelled in 2012.[7

Most recently, our members have been engaged in the various environmental review processes for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. This project will cross more than 300 miles in the State, with over 890 crossings of rivers and streams that will lead to erosion and sedimentation in those waterbodies. The construction of the pipeline will require Dominion to clear 5,000 acres of land, including 3,000 acres of forest and 300 acres of wetlands. Additionally, much of the construction will traverse rugged terrain through steep slopes and karst geology characterized by sinkholes and caves that are hydrologically interconnected underground, threatening those water resources.[8] The environmental impacts associated with this project are substantial and a full and robust NEPA process is required to ensure that the agencies involved conduct a complete analysis of these impacts.

We anticipate other major federal actions in the years to come that will impact the Chesapeake Bay watershed. 

The existing CEQ NEPA regulations effectively address the objectives identified in the many questions posed by the ANPRM. We urge CEQ to withdraw the ANPRM and retain the existing CEQ regulations implementing NEPA.    

We thank you for the opportunity to comment on this important action.

                                              

Sincerely,

American Chestnut Land Trust INC

Anacostia Watershed Society

Audubon Naturalist Society

Baltimore Tree Trust

Blue Water Baltimore

Capital Region Land Conservancy

Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Chesapeake Conservancy

Clean Fairfax Council

Coalition for Smarter Growth

Conservation Voters of PA

Delaware Nature Society

Earthworks

FracTracker Alliance

Friends of Dyke Marsh

Friends of Quincy Run Watershed

Friends of the Nanticoke River

Friends of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River

Friends of the Rappahannock

Interfaith Power & Light (DC.MD.NoVA)

Lancaster County Conservancy

Maryland League of Conservation Voters

Mattawoman Watershed Society

Mid-Atlantic Youth Anglers & Outdoors Partners

Nature Abounds

PennFuture

Pennsylvania Council of Churches

Piedmont Environmental Council

Potomac Riverkeeper Network

Rachel Carson Council

Richmond Audubon

Rivertown Coalition for Clean Air & Water

Rock Creek Conservancy

Savage River Watershed Association

Severn River Association

Shenandoah Valley Network

Sleepy Creek Watershed Association

Southern Maryland Audubon Society

St. Mary's River Watershed Association

The Downstream Project

Virginia Conservation Network

Waterkeepers Chesapeake

West Virginia Environmental Council, Inc.

West Virginia Highlands Conservancy

West Virginia Rivers Coalition

 

[1] 42 U.S.C. § 4321. 

[2] See: “Streamlining NEPA—an Environmental Success Story,” 9 B.C. Envtl. Aff. L. Rev. 507 (1981-1982). 

[3] Aberdeen & Rockfish R. Co. v. Students Challenging Regulatory Agency Procedures (S.C.R.A.P.), 422 U.S. 289, 331 (1975) (Douglas J., dissenting).

[4]  Andrus v. Sierra Club, 442 U.S. 347 (1979).

[5] Methow Valley Citizens Council, 490 U.S. at 349.

[6] September 19, 2005 Letter to the Honorable Cathy McMorris, Chair of the Task Force on Improving the National Environmental Policy Act from Russell E. Train (CEQ Chair 1970-1973), Russell W. Peterson (CEQ Chair 1973-1976), John Busterud (CEQ Chair 1976-1977), Charles W. Warren (CEQ Chair 1977-1979), J. Gustave Speth (CEQ Chair 1979-1981), Michael R. Deland (CEQ Chair 1989-1993), Kathleen A. McGinty (CEQ Chair 1995-1998), George T. Frampton Jr. (CEQ Chair 1998-2001), Gary Widman (CEQ General Counsel 1974-1976), Nick Yost (CEQ General Counsel 1977-1981) (emphasis added).

[7] Protect NEPA, Buried Cables: The MAPP Transmission Project (Feb. 27, 2018), https://protectnepa.org/mapp-pepco-utility-lines/.

[8] Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Atlantic Coast Pipeline Natural Gas Pipeline, http://www.cbf.org/about-cbf/locations/virginia/issues/atlantic-coast-natural-gas-pipeline.html (last visited Aug. 10, 2018).

Senate CJS Appropriations 2019

PDF Version

March 13, 2018                                                                                                            

The Honorable Richard Shelby, Chairman

Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies

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

 

The Honorable Jeanne Shaheen, Ranking Member

 Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies

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

 

Dear Chairman Shelby and Ranking Member Shaheen:

The undersigned members of the Choose Clean Water Coalition request continued support for programs that are essential to maintaining a healthy and vibrant Chesapeake Bay and a strong regional economy that is dependent on the Bay’s resources. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has a strong and long term presence in the Chesapeake Bay area, and its Chesapeake Bay Office coordinates their efforts with other federal agencies, state and local partners and users of the resource.

The programs that are run and/or coordinated by NOAA’s Chesapeake Bay Office (NCBO) are critical for the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem and for its users and residents. These programs provide the science and management assistance necessary for those whose livelihood is to ply the Bay’s waters for fish, crabs and oysters and to the hundreds of thousands of people who fish recreationally in the Bay every year and to the millions who boat, kayak, and/or view wildlife in the region.

NCBO is also critical for others, from students learning about science with hands-on experiences to local governments and residents along the shore to have the latest information to prepare for coastal flooding and hurricane emergencies.

Utilizing sound science in the management of Chesapeake Bay resources is critical for our regional economy. We request the following funding levels in Fiscal Year 2019: Department of Commerce

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – Chesapeake Bay Office (NCBO) - $9.25 million

The NCBO was established by Congress in 1992 to provide resources, technical assistance and coordination through its two branches: the Ecosystem Science and Synthesis Program, which focuses on applied research and monitoring in fisheries and aquatic habitats; synthesis, and analysis to describe and predict Bay ecosystem processes; and technical assistance to Chesapeake Bay decision makers.

The second branch is Environmental Literacy and Partnerships Program, which focuses on the development of K-12 and higher education environmental science education programs; strategic partnerships with the Chesapeake Bay Program and other government, university, and nonprofit partners; and delivering NOAA products, services, and programs to targeted audiences.

The Office’s programs play a key role in implementing the voluntary Chesapeake Bay Agreement among the states and is critical to ensuring that commitments are met to:  • restore native oyster habitat and populations in 10 tributaries by the year 2025; • ensure students graduate with the knowledge and skills to protect and restore their local watershed; • sustain a healthy blue crab and striped bass (rockfish) population; and • maintain a coordinated watershed-wide monitoring and research program. The specific breakdown of our request for $9.25 million for the NCBO is as follows: • Oyster Restoration - $4 million The Chesapeake Bay oyster population is less than 1 percent of historic levels and the ecosystem functions associated with oyster reefs, including fish habitat and nitrogen removal, are similarly diminished. NCBO has built on past success to restore entire tributaries, with self-sustaining oyster populations and to measure the resulting ecosystem benefits. NCBO works with federal, state and private partners to plan and implement this tributary-scale restoration in both Maryland and Virginia. Funding for oyster restoration in the Chesapeake was also done through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, but they have not received funding in a number of years. Funding for this key program has eroded sharply since FY2010, and without Army Corps funds, NOAA is the only Federal agency left to continue this key restoration program.

 

• Environmental Education and Literacy - $3.5 million NCBO encourages and supports efforts in K-12 and higher education to develop and implement comprehensive environmental literacy programs. NCBO runs the nationally recognized Bay Watershed Education and Training Program (B-WET) - a competitive grant program for hands-on watershed education for students and teacher training to foster stewardship of the Chesapeake Bay. B-WETs funding has steadily eroded since 2010 and should be restored to at least that level.

 

• Fisheries Science and Management - $1 million Recreational and commercial fisheries are among the most valuable economic activities for the coastal communities of the Bay. Fishing pressure, habitat loss, invasive species, degraded water quality, and toxics affect these important fisheries, including striped bass (rockfish), blue crabs, oysters, menhaden and cow-nosed rays. NOAA supports well-managed Chesapeake Bay fisheries and the habitats they depend on by delivering timely ecosystem-based science and forecasts to science and management partners. Historically, the states have looked to NCBO to conduct stock assessments, particularly for blue crabs. Each state

often has its own assessment data, but NOAA’s ability to look at the stocks for the entire Bay is critical. Each stock assessment costs approximately $500,000.

 

• Chesapeake Bay Interpretive Buoy System (CBIBS) - $750,000 The Chesapeake Bay ecosystem is dynamic, and water quality is driven by variable local and regional forces. High quality data is needed to monitor, understand, forecast, and provide information for science-based decisions and needs to be continuously measured and summarized. NCBO maintains the CBIBS, a network of 10 buoys that collects and relays near-real-time data to users. This supports public access to the Bay and boater safety on the water through the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, administered by the National Park Service.  Thank you for your consideration of these very important requests to maintain funding for programs that are critical to the health of the Chesapeake Bay and its natural resources. Please contact Peter J. Marx at 410-905-2515 or Peter@ChooseCleanWater.org with any questions or concerns.

 

Sincerely,

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

PennEnvironment

PennFuture

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

ShoreRivers

Sidney Center Improvement Group

Sleepy Creek Watershed Association

South River Federation

Southern Environmental Law Center

Southern Maryland Audubon Society

SouthWings

Sparks-Glencoe Community Planning Council

Susquehanna Heritage

The Downstream Project

Trash Free Maryland

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

House Interior Appropriations 2019

March 13, 2018

The Honorable Ken Calvert, Chairman

 Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies

2007 Rayburn House Office Building

U.S. House of Representatives Washington, D.C. 20515

 

The Honorable Betty McCollum, Ranking Minority Member

 Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies

1016 Longworth House Office Building

U.S. House of Representatives Washington, D.C. 20515

 

Dear Chairman Calvert and Ranking Member McCollum:

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 peter@choosecleanwater.org with any questions or concerns. 

 

Sincerely, 

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

PennEnvironment

PennFuture

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

 ShoreRivers

Sidney Center Improvement Group

 Sleepy Creek Watershed Association

South River Federation

 Southern Environmental Law Center

Southern Maryland Audubon Society

SouthWings

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

Senate Interior Appropriations 2019

PDF Version

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 peter@choosecleanwater.org with any questions or concerns. 

Sincerely, 

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

PennEnvironment

PennFuture

 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

ShoreRivers

Sidney Center Improvement Group

Sleepy Creek Watershed Association

South River Federation

Southern Environmental Law Center

 Southern Maryland Audubon Society

SouthWings

 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

 

 


 

House CJS Appropriations

PDF Version

March 13, 2018    

The Honorable John Culberson, Chairman

Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies H-310

The Capitol U.S. House of Representatives Washington, D.C. 20515
 


The Honorable José Serrano, Ranking Minority Member

Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies

1016 Longworth House Office Building U.S. House of Representatives Washington, D.C. 20515
 


Dear Chairman Culberson and Ranking Member Serrano:


The undersigned members of the Choose Clean Water Coalition request continued support for programs that are essential to maintaining a healthy and vibrant Chesapeake Bay and a strong regional economy that is dependent on the Bay’s resources. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has a strong and long term presence in the Chesapeake Bay area, and its Chesapeake Bay Office coordinates their efforts with other federal agencies, state and local partners and users of the resource.
The programs that are run and/or coordinated by NOAA’s Chesapeake Bay Office (NCBO) are critical for the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem and for its users and residents. These programs provide the science and management assistance necessary for those whose livelihood is to ply the Bay’s waters for fish, crabs and oysters and to the hundreds of thousands of people who fish recreationally in the Bay every year and to the millions who boat, kayak, and/or view wildlife in the region.
NCBO is also critical for others, from students learning about science with hands-on experiences to local governments and residents along the shore to have the latest information to prepare for coastal flooding and hurricane emergencies.
Utilizing sound science in the management of Chesapeake Bay resources is critical for our regional economy. We request the following funding levels in Fiscal Year 2019: Department of Commerce
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – Chesapeake Bay Office (NCBO) - $9.25 million
The NCBO was established by Congress in 1992 to provide resources, technical assistance and coordination through its two branches: the Ecosystem Science and Synthesis Program, which focuses on applied research and monitoring in fisheries and aquatic habitats; synthesis, and analysis to describe and predict Bay ecosystem processes; and technical assistance to Chesapeake Bay decision makers.
 The second branch is Environmental Literacy and Partnerships Program, which focuses on the development of K-12 and higher education environmental science education programs; strategic partnerships with the Chesapeake Bay Program and other government, university, and nonprofit partners; and delivering NOAA products, services, and programs to targeted audiences.
The Office’s programs play a key role in implementing the voluntary Chesapeake Bay Agreement among the states and is critical to ensuring that commitments are met to:  • restore native oyster habitat and populations in 10 tributaries by the year 2025; • ensure students graduate with the knowledge and skills to protect and restore their local watershed; • sustain a healthy blue crab and striped bass (rockfish) population; and • maintain a coordinated watershed-wide monitoring and research program. The specific breakdown of our request for $9.25 million for the NCBO is as follows: • Oyster Restoration - $4 million The Chesapeake Bay oyster population is less than 1 percent of historic levels and the ecosystem functions associated with oyster reefs, including fish habitat and nitrogen removal, are similarly diminished. NCBO has built on past success to restore entire tributaries, with self-sustaining oyster populations and to measure the resulting ecosystem benefits. NCBO works with federal, state and private partners to plan and implement this tributary-scale restoration in both Maryland and Virginia. Funding for oyster restoration in the Chesapeake was also done through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, but they have not received funding in a number of years. Funding for this key program has eroded sharply since FY2010, and without Army Corps funds, NOAA is the only Federal agency left to continue this key restoration program.
 
• Environmental Education and Literacy - $3.5 million NCBO encourages and supports efforts in K-12 and higher education to develop and implement comprehensive environmental literacy programs. NCBO runs the nationally recognized Bay Watershed Education and Training Program (B-WET) - a competitive grant program for hands-on watershed education for students and teacher training to foster stewardship of the Chesapeake Bay. B-WETs funding has steadily eroded since 2010 and should be restored to at least that level.
 
• Fisheries Science and Management - $1 million Recreational and commercial fisheries are among the most valuable economic activities for the coastal communities of the Bay. Fishing pressure, habitat loss, invasive species, degraded water quality, and toxics affect these important fisheries, including striped bass (rockfish), blue crabs, oysters, menhaden and cow-nosed rays. NOAA supports well-managed Chesapeake Bay fisheries and the habitats they depend on by delivering timely ecosystem-based science and forecasts to science and management partners. Historically, the states have looked to NCBO to conduct stock assessments, particularly for blue crabs. Each state
often has its own assessment data, but NOAA’s ability to look at the stocks for the entire Bay is critical. Each stock assessment costs approximately $500,000.
 
• Chesapeake Bay Interpretive Buoy System (CBIBS) - $750,000 The Chesapeake Bay ecosystem is dynamic, and water quality is driven by variable local and regional forces. High quality data is needed to monitor, understand, forecast, and provide information for science-based decisions and needs to be continuously measured and summarized. NCBO maintains the CBIBS, a network of 10 buoys that collects and relays near-real-time data to users. This supports public access to the Bay and boater safety on the water through the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, administered by the National Park Service.  Thank you for your consideration of these very important requests to maintain funding for programs that are critical to the health of the Chesapeake Bay and its natural resources. Please contact Peter J. Marx at 410-905-2515 or Peter@ChooseCleanWater.org with any questions or concerns.
 
Sincerely,
 
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

PennEnvironment

PennFuture

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

ShoreRivers

Sidney Center Improvement Group

Sleepy Creek Watershed Association

South River Federation

Southern Environmental Law Center

Southern Maryland Audubon Society

SouthWings

Sparks-Glencoe Community Planning Council

Susquehanna Heritage

The Downstream Project

Trash Free Maryland

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

Offshore Drilling

Comment Letter on Offshore Drilling in the Atlantic

February 27, 2018

The Honorable Ryan Zinke
Secretary of the Interior
Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20240

Re:      Comments on the 2019-2024 Draft Proposed National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program

Dear Secretary Zinke:

We, the undersigned members of the Choose Clean Water Coalition, urge you to exempt ALL of the states on the Atlantic Coast – not just Florida - from offshore oil and gas drilling and development. This proposal would clearly endanger the nation’s largest and most productive estuary, the Chesapeake Bay, but would also impact valuable estuaries, beaches, fisheries and tourism economies along the entire Atlantic seaboard.

In the Mid-Atlantic, we are keenly aware that any large spill, even one far smaller than the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, could easily have disastrous consequences for Chesapeake Bay.  For example, Chesapeake Bay is the largest source of blue crabs in the United States. Every year the entire next generation of crabs, in their larval stage, are swept into the Atlantic where they mature before making their way back into the Bay to repopulate the species. An oil spill at this time, when the entire future crab population is vulnerable, could wipe out this valuable economic resource. The crab population is also an integral part of the Bay’s food chain and such an accident could imperil the future of the Bay ecosystem for a generation.

You have exempted Florida from this proposal because of its beaches and estuaries, but we want you to know that it is not unique. Florida is home to four estuaries that have been designated by Congress as having special national significance – though only one is on the Atlantic coastline. However, the rest of the Atlantic Coast, in addition to Chesapeake Bay, has 13 estuaries that are of special national significance and are protected through the National Estuary Program.

The valuable resources – beaches, estuaries, commercial and recreational fisheries, migratory birds and waterfowl, etc. – that abound on the Atlantic Coast are too valuable a resource to endanger by this poorly thought out proposal.  This proposal is opposed by state and local governments up and down the Atlantic coast and local control and deference should lead you to listen to their concerns.

The Chesapeake Bay is also home to two of the largest ports on the East Coast, as well as to Naval Base Norfolk – the largest naval base in the world. Any large-scale offshore oil and gas drilling and development could disrupt commercial shipping from shore-based impacts and impede the readiness of our military - and a catastrophic spill in this area would inhibit the daily functions of this essential military base. The Blue Ribbon Finance Panel established under the Bush Administration concluded that the value of the Chesapeake Bay to the U.S. economy to be worth in excess of a trillion dollars – and that was more than a decade ago. This is a valuable resource and a national treasure that should not be trifled with.

We are very concerned about the potential catastrophic impacts to Chesapeake Bay, and other priceless areas along the Atlantic Coast. We urge you to exempt the entire Atlantic Coast from this shortsighted and dangerous proposal.  Thank you.

 

Anacostia Watershed Society

Audubon Naturalist Society

Baltimore Tree Trust

Blue Heron Environmental Network

Blue Water Baltimore

Chesapeake Climate Action Network

Clean Fairfax Council

Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania

Delaware Nature Society

Earth Forum of Howard County

Friends of Accotink Creek

Friends of Lower Beaverdam Creek

Friends of the Nanticoke River

Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake

Interfaith Power and Light (DC.MD.NoVa)

Lynnhaven River NOW

Maryland Conservation Council

Maryland Environmental Health Network

Maryland League of Conservation Voters

Mattawoman Watershed Society

Mehoopany Creek Watershed Association

National Parks Conservation Association

National Wildlife Federation

Nature Abounds

Patuxent Tidewater Land Trust

PennFuture

Pennsylvania Council of Churches

Potomac Riverkeeper Network

Rachel Carson Council

Richmond Audubon Society

Rivertown Coalition for Clean Air & Water

Rock Creek Conservancy

Rockbridge Area Conservation Council

Savage River Watershed Association

Severn Riverkeeper

ShoreRivers

Southern Maryland Audubon Society

St. Mary's River Watershed Association

Virginia Conservation Network

Virginia Eastern Shorekeeper

Virginia League of Conservation Voters

Waterkeepers Chesapeake

 

CoSponsor Letter Chesapeake Bay Farm Bill Enhancements Act of 2017

CoSponsor Letter Chesapeake Bay Farm Bill Enhancements Act of 2017

October 16, 2017

Dear Senator:

The undersigned members of the Choose Clean Water Coalition urge you to cosponsor Senator Chris Van Hollen’s Chesapeake Bay Farm Bill Enhancements Act of 2017, which should be introduced soon. This bill is essential to maintaining and restoring clean water in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

There are 87,000 farms in the six-state Chesapeake region. Those that are well run protect their water resources and add much to our landscape, environment, and economy. We want to ensure that these responsible farms and farmers remain economically viable. Nutrient and sediment pollution from farms is by far the largest source of contamination in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Recognizing this, the 2008 Farm Bill established the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative that provided $238 million over five years to producers in the region to apply conservation practices on their farms that would help to restore and/or protect water quality.

The 2014 Farm Bill created the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) that replaced a number of geographic programs, including the Chesapeake Initiative. Unfortunately, the RCPP has provided a significantly reduced level of support for conservation in the Chesapeake region providing only 22 percent of the funds that were previously allocated under the Chesapeake Initiative in the prior Farm Bill.

Senator Van Hollen’s Chesapeake Bay Farm Bill Enhancements Act of 2017 makes some important changes to the RCPP that will fix many of the problems the Program had in our region. Farmers will get critical funding for conservation practices that will lead to cleaner streams and rivers as well as a healthier Chesapeake Bay.  

Thank you for your consideration of this important request that is critical to clean water throughout the Chesapeake Bay region. Please be an original cosponsor of the Chesapeake Bay Farm Bill Enhancements Act of 2017.

Sincerely,

Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay
American Rivers
Anacostia Watershed Society
Audubon Naturalist Society
Butternut Valley Alliance
Cecil Land Use Association
Chesapeake Bay Foundation
Clean Water Action
Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania
Delaware Nature Society
Earth Force
Earth Forum of Howard County
Friends of Accotink Creek
Friends of the Bohemia
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 Heritage Greenway
Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association
Maryland Conservation Council
Maryland League of Conservation Voters
Maryland Native Plant Society
Mehoopany Creek Watershed Association
Mid-Atlantic Youth Anglers & Outdoors Program
Montgomery Countryside Alliance
National Parks Conservation Association
Natural Resources Defense Council
Nature Abounds
New York League of Conservation Voters
New York State Council of Trout Unlimited
Otsego County Conservation Association
Otsego Land Trust
PennFuture
Pennsylvania Council of Churches
Piedmont Environmental Council
Potomac Conservancy
Potomac Riverkeeper
Potomac Riverkeeper Network
Prince William Conservation Alliance
Rachel Carson Council
Rivertown Coalition for Clean Air & Water
Rock Creek Conservancy
Savage River Watershed Association
Shenandoah Riverkeeper
Shenandoah Valley Network
Sidney Center Improvement Group
Sleepy Creek Watershed Association
Southern Environmental Law Center
Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project
Southern Maryland Audubon Society
SouthWings
Sparks-Glencoe Community Planning Council
St. Mary’s Watershed Association
Susquehanna Heritage
Trout Unlimited
Upper Potomac Riverkeeper
Virginia Conservation Network
Virginia Eastern Shorekeeper
Virginia League of Conservation Voters
Waterkeepers Chesapeake
West/Rhode Riverkeeper
West Virginia Rivers Coalition

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coalition Letter to House on Goodlatte Amendment

PDF Version: Coalition Letter to House on Goodlatte Amendment


September 7, 2017


Dear Representative:

On behalf of the more than 230 member groups of the Choose Clean Water Coalition, we strongly urge you to oppose an amendment Congressman Bob Goodlatte plans to offer on the Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill. The amendment undermines the successful cooperative federalism demonstrated by the Chesapeake Bay clean up and would severely hamper progress being made to restore and protect local waters.

The Chesapeake Bay is North America’s largest estuary and its vast watershed covers portions of six states - Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia - and the District of Columbia (DC). The Bay is a national treasure and an economic engine for the region. After decades of unsuccessful attempts to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the six Chesapeake Bay states and DC agreed to a geographically-tailored clean up process – and it is working.

Each state has drafted and is following its own Watershed Implementation Plan reflecting the state’s needs and detailing how it plans to reduce water pollution in the region. All of these plans have been approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and incorporate an adaptive management approach to let each state respond to lessons learned throughout the restoration effort.

The clean up is working and there have been clear results in the Bay watershed. The current process has given the states more control than ever in seeking solutions to the degraded waters of the region, while utilizing federal resources to help the states meet their commitments. While the effort has been challenged, including in Federal Court, it has been upheld by the United States Court of Appeals and retains widespread support throughout the watershed.

The Goodlatte Amendment is an attempt to stop a federal-state-local cooperative restoration program that is working. The Chesapeake Bay jurisdictions have no desire to end their coordinated efforts and significant investments in their clean up plans. In 2014, the governors of the Bay states and the mayor of DC all reaffirmed their commitment to the restoration effort by signing a new Chesapeake Bay Agreement, and confirmed their continued support when they met this past June.

Two and a half years ago, Congress passed the Chesapeake Bay Accountability and Recovery Act by a unanimous vote of 416-0 in the House. This program is being successfully implemented by EPA and the states, and we believe that accountability is a critical element of keeping the Chesapeake Bay cleanup effort on track. This amendment would hinder the restoration effort by undermining accountability when we need it most and reverting to the failed policies of the past. 

For these reasons, we urge you to protect the investments and commitments made by each of the Bay watershed states and vote “NO” on the Goodlatte Amendment.

Sincerely,


Jennifer Mihills                                       Angie Rosser                                   Karla Raettig

National Wildlife Federation                   West Virginia Rivers                       Maryland League of

                                                               Coalition                                           Conservation Voters  

Letter To Secretary Perdue on RCPP

PDF Version: Letter to Secretary Perdue on Regional Conservation Partnership Program 
Response from Secretary Perdue: Secretary Perdue Response Letter 

March 30, 2017

The Honorable Sonny Perdue
Secretary Designee
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20250-3700

Dear Secretary Designee Perdue:

The undersigned members of the Choose Clean Water Coalition are concerned about federal support for programs that are essential to maintaining and restoring clean water in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. For that reason, we are concerned about the funding cuts to the Chesapeake under the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).

There are 87,000 farms in the six-state Chesapeake region. Those that are well run protect their water resources and add much to our landscape, environment, and economy. We want to ensure that these responsible farms and farmers remain economically viable. Nutrient and sediment pollution from farms is by far the largest source of contamination in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Recognizing this, the 2008 Farm Bill established the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative that provided $238 million over five years to producers in the region to apply conservation practices on their farms that would help to restore and/or protect water quality.

All of the conservation programs under the Farm Bill, including the RCPP, are critical for both farmers and clean water throughout the Chesapeake Bay region and we support full funding for them. These programs are essential for agricultural operations to meet state and federal goals that address both farm health and water quality.

The Agriculture Act of 2014 (the 2014 Farm Bill) replaced several regional programs, including the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative with the RCPP. The RCPP was designed to focus resources on assisting producers to voluntarily apply conservation practices on agricultural working lands to improve water quality in high priority watersheds, such as the Chesapeake watershed. The Choose Clean Water Coalition supported this approach. The entire Chesapeake Bay watershed was designated as one of eight national priority Critical Conservation Areas, and we applauded that decision. However, the amount of RCPP funds that were eventually provided for this effort fell well short of what anyone expected a “priority” area to receive.

The five years of funding for the Chesapeake region under the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative of the 2008 Farm Bill provided an average of $47.6 million every year for conservation practices that benefit water quality. During the first four years of the RCPP, the Natural Resources Conservation Service allocated a total of only $43.18 million to projects all, or partially, in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. In addition, NRCS has taken 25% of each project allocation for “technical assistance and administration”, further reducing the amounts actually available to farmers. While we support using these funds for technical assistance, we do not support taking dollars which Congress intended for conservation and using them instead for “administration” or overhead. Recipients also have to provide a dollar for dollar match for the entire amount prior to the deduction of the 25% administrative fee.

This significantly reduced level of support for conservation has undercut the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) commitment to the Chesapeake. The $43.18 million over the first four years of the RCPP has provided 22% of the funds that were previously allocated to conservation in the Chesapeake region under the 2008 Farm Bill – an average of $10.8 million annually. Calculating the 25% for “administration” reduces the annual allocation actually available for conservation in the Chesapeake from the RCPP to $8.1 million annually. This is a much more dramatic cut to efforts by farmers in the Chesapeake Bay watershed to improve water quality and habitat – and is only 17% of the funds delivered to the watershed for conservation under the 2008 Farm Bill.

These large funding reductions under the RCPP, as it has been administered, have resulted in a steep cut to conservation that is critical to maintain and restore clean water to the rivers and streams throughout the Chesapeake Bay region, and for the Bay itself. These programs are essential for the agricultural sector to implement the voluntary projects needed for clean water in our rural areas.

We are deeply disappointed that the RCPP has so shortchanged the Chesapeake region. There had been no shortage of applications by farmers in the six-state Chesapeake Bay watershed to apply for funds under the 2008 Farm Bill, and there is still no shortage of producers and others willing to act under the 2014 Farm Bill.

We strongly urge you to treat the Chesapeake as a true Critical Conservation Area under the 2014 Farm Bill, and to better allocate future funds to reflect that. USDA has an obligation under the voluntary 2014 Chesapeake Watershed Agreement, which USDA signed as a member of the Federal Leadership Committee for the Chesapeake Bay to help meet the goals of the Agreement and the RCPP should be its primary tool to obtain success.

Thank you for your consideration of this important request that is critical to clean water throughout the Chesapeake Bay region. Please contact Peter J. Marx at 410-905-2515 or peter@choosecleanwater.org with any questions or concerns. Thank you.

Sincerely,

1000 Friends of Maryland

Alice Ferguson Foundation

Alliance for Sustainable Communities

Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay

Anacostia Watershed Society

Audubon Naturalist Society

Back Creek Conservancy

Blue Water Baltimore

Cacapon Institute

Capital Region Land Conservancy

Catskill Mountainkeeper

Cecil Land Use Association

Center for Progressive Reform

Chapman Forest Foundation

Chesapeake Legal Alliance

Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage

Chester River Association

Clean Water Action

Coalition for Smarter Growth

Conservation Montgomery

Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania

Delaware Nature Society

Ducks Unlimited

Earth Force

Earth Forum of Howard County

Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation

Eastern Shore Land Conservancy

EcoLatinos

Elizabeth River Project

Elk Creeks Watershed Association

Environment America

Environment Maryland

Environment New York

Environment Virginia

Environmental Working Group

Envision Frederick County

Friends of Accotink Creek

Friends of Dyke Marsh

Friends of Lower Beaverdam Creek

Friends of Quincy Run

Friends of the Middle River

Friends of the Nanticoke River

Friends of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River

Friends of the Rappahannock

Goose Creek Association

Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake

Izaak Walton League of America

James River Association

Lackawanna River Conservation Association

Lancaster Farmland Trust

Little Falls Watershed Alliance

Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper

Lynnhaven River NOW

Maryland Conservation Council

Maryland League of Conservation Voters

Mattawoman Watershed Society

Mehoopany Creek Watershed Association

Mid-Atlantic Council Trout Unlimited

Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper

Montgomery Countryside Alliance

National Aquarium

National Parks Conservation Association

National Wildlife Federation

Nature Abounds

New York League of Conservation Voters

New York State Council of Trout Unlimited

Natural Resources Defense Council

Neighbors of the Northwest Branch

Otsego County Conservation Association

Otsego Land Trust

PennEnvironment

PennFuture

Pennsylvania Council of Churches

Piedmont Environmental Council

Potomac Conservancy

Potomac Riverkeeper

Potomac Riverkeeper Network

Queen Anne’s Conservation Association

Rivanna Conservation Alliance

Rock Creek Conservancy

St. Mary's River Watershed Association

Sassafras River Association

Savage River Watershed Association

Severn River Association

Shenandoah Riverkeeper

Shenandoah Valley Network

Sidney Center Improvement Group

Sleepy Creek Watershed Association

South River Federation

SouthWings

Sparks-Glencoe Community Planning Council

Susquehanna Heritage

Trout Unlimited

Upper Potomac Riverkeeper

Upper Susquehanna Coalition

Virginia Conservation Network

Virginia League of Conservation Voters

Waterkeepers Chesapeake

West/Rhode Riverkeeper

West Virginia Citizen Action Group

West Virginia Environmental Council

West Virginia Rivers Coalition

Wetlands Watch

Wicomico Environmental Trust

 

Senate Agriculture Appropriations Letter

PDF Version: Senate Agriculture Appropriations Letter 
 

March 30, 2017

The Honorable John Hoeven, Chairman
Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Committee on Appropriations
S-128 Capitol U.S. Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Jeff Merkley, Ranking Minority Member Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Committee on Appropriations
S-146A Capitol U.S. Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Chairman Hoeven and Ranking Member Merkley:

The undersigned members of the Choose Clean Water Coalition request continued support for clean water in the Chesapeake Bay watershed through the Agricultural Act of 2014’s (2014 Farm Bill’s) conservation programs. There are 87,000 farms in the six-state Chesapeake region; those that are well run protect their water resources and add much to our landscape, environment and economy. We want to ensure that these responsible farms and farmers remain economically viable. Stopping cuts to these conservation programs is critical to maintain and restore clean water to the rivers and streams throughout the Chesapeake Bay region, and for the Bay itself. These programs are essential for regulated agricultural operations to meet federal regulations under the Clean Water Act and help farmers meet state regulations that address both farm health and water quality.

We urge you to maintain full funding for mandatory agricultural conservation programs in Fiscal Year 2018. The 2014 Farm Bill set us on a new path toward clean water in our region, but only if key conservation programs are funded as Congress intended. With the support of much of the conservation community and clean water advocates, the 2014 Farm Bill eliminated nearly a dozen conservation programs (including the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative) and reduced mandatory funding overall to save American taxpayers approximately $6 billion.

Two-thirds of the 18 million people in the Chesapeake 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. Much of the work and funding necessary to achieve and maintain clean and healthy water in this region would be accomplished through the Farm Bill’s new Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). We urge you to provide full funding for mandatory conservation programs that are critical to maintaining a fully funded RCPP. In particular, we urge you to fund the Environmental Quality Incentives Program at $1.65 billion to help willing producers implement conservation practices on their farms.

In May 2014, the Chesapeake Bay Watershed was designated as one of eight Critical Conservation Areas under the new RCPP. For the first four years of RCPP funding, the Chesapeake received $43.18 million for projects all, or partially, in the Chesapeake Bay watershed – this is an average of $10.8 million annually. This is a precipitous drop from the five years of funding from the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative where our region’s producers received an average of $47.6 million annually for conservation practices. This is a huge shortfall for conservation in our region and any further cuts to the RCPP will exacerbate this funding drop off. We urge you to maintain the 2014 Farm Bill’s negotiated mandatory funding levels for all conservation programs, including the RCPP.

In order to follow a common sense path to maintain economically viable well run farms and to have healthy local water and a restored Chesapeake Bay, which is critical for our regional economy, we request full funding for all conservation programs in the Farm Bill for Fiscal Year 2018.

Thank you for your consideration on this very important request to maintain funding for these programs which are critical to both our agricultural community and for clean water throughout the mid-Atlantic region. Please contact Peter J. Marx at 410-905-2515 or peter@choosecleanwater.org with any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

1000 Friends of Maryland

Alice Ferguson Foundation

Alliance for Sustainable Communities

Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay

Anacostia Watershed Society

Audubon Naturalist Society

Back Creek Conservancy

Blue Water Baltimore

Cacapon Institute

Capital Region Land Conservancy

Catskill Mountainkeeper

Cecil Land Use Association

Center for Progressive Reform

Chapman Forest Foundation

Chesapeake Legal Alliance

Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage

Chester River Association

Clean Water Action

Coalition for Smarter Growth

Conservation Montgomery

Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania

Delaware Nature Society

Ducks Unlimited

Earth Force

Earth Forum of Howard County

Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation

Eastern Shore Land Conservancy

EcoLatinos

Elizabeth River Project

Elk Creeks Watershed Association

Environment America

Environment Maryland

Environment New York

Environment Virginia

Environmental Working Group

Envision Frederick County

Friends of Accotink Creek

Friends of Dyke Marsh

Friends of Lower Beaverdam Creek

Friends of Quincy Run

Friends of the Middle River

Friends of the Nanticoke River

Friends of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River

Friends of the Rappahannock

Goose Creek Association

Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake

Izaak Walton League of America

James River Association

Lackawanna River Conservation Association

Lancaster Farmland Trust

Little Falls Watershed Alliance

Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper

Lynnhaven River NOW

Maryland Conservation Council

Maryland League of Conservation Voters

Mattawoman Watershed Society

Mehoopany Creek Watershed Association

Mid-Atlantic Council Trout Unlimited

Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper

Montgomery Countryside Alliance

National Aquarium

National Parks Conservation Association

National Wildlife Federation

Nature Abounds

New York League of Conservation Voters

New York State Council of Trout Unlimited

Natural Resources Defense Council

Neighbors of the Northwest Branch

Otsego County Conservation Association

Otsego Land Trust

PennEnvironment

PennFuture

Pennsylvania Council of Churches

Piedmont Environmental Council

Potomac Conservancy

Potomac Riverkeeper

Potomac Riverkeeper Network

Queen Anne’s Conservation Association

Rivanna Conservation Alliance

Rock Creek Conservancy

St. Mary's River Watershed Association

Sassafras River Association

Savage River Watershed Association

Severn River Association

Shenandoah Riverkeeper

Shenandoah Valley Network

Sidney Center Improvement Group

Sleepy Creek Watershed Association

South River Federation

SouthWings

Sparks-Glencoe Community Planning Council

Susquehanna Heritage

Trout Unlimited

Upper Potomac Riverkeeper

Upper Susquehanna Coalition

Virginia Conservation Network

Virginia League of Conservation Voters

Waterkeepers Chesapeake

West/Rhode Riverkeeper

West Virginia Citizen Action Group

West Virginia Environmental Council

West Virginia Rivers Coalition

Wetlands Watch

Wicomico Environmental Trust

 

House Agriculture Appropriations Letter

PDF Version: House Agriculture Appropriations Letter 
 

March 30, 2017

The Honorable Robert Aderholt, Chairman
Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Committee on Appropriations
2362-A Rayburn House Office Building
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Sanford Bishop, Ranking Minority Member Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Committee on Appropriations
1016 Longworth House Office Building
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Chairman Aderholt and Ranking Member Bishop:

The undersigned members of the Choose Clean Water Coalition request continued support for clean water in the Chesapeake Bay watershed through the Agricultural Act of 2014’s (2014 Farm Bill’s) conservation programs. There are 87,000 farms in the six-state Chesapeake region; those that are well run protect their water resources and add much to our landscape, environment and economy. We want to ensure that these responsible farms and farmers remain economically viable. Stopping cuts to these conservation programs is critical to maintain and restore clean water to the rivers and streams throughout the Chesapeake Bay region, and for the Bay itself. These programs are essential for regulated agricultural operations to meet federal regulations under the Clean Water Act and help farmers meet state regulations that address both farm health and water quality.

We urge you to maintain full funding for mandatory agricultural conservation programs in Fiscal Year 2018. The 2014 Farm Bill set us on a new path toward clean water in our region, but only if key conservation programs are funded as Congress intended. With the support of much of the conservation community and clean water advocates, the 2014 Farm Bill eliminated nearly a dozen conservation programs (including the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative) and reduced mandatory funding overall to save American taxpayers approximately $6 billion.

Two-thirds of the 18 million people in the Chesapeake 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. Much of the work and funding necessary to achieve and maintain clean and healthy water in this region would be accomplished through the Farm Bill’s new Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). We urge you to provide full funding for mandatory conservation programs that are critical to maintaining a fully funded RCPP. In particular, we urge you to fund the Environmental Quality Incentives Program at $1.65 billion to help willing producers implement conservation practices on their farms.

In May 2014, the Chesapeake Bay Watershed was designated as one of eight Critical Conservation Areas under the new RCPP. For the first four years of RCPP funding, the Chesapeake received $43.18 million for projects all, or partially, in the Chesapeake Bay watershed – this is an average of $10.8 million annually. This is a precipitous drop from the five years of funding from the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative where our region’s producers received an average of $47.6 million annually for conservation practices. This is a huge shortfall for conservation in our region and any further cuts to the RCPP will exacerbate this funding drop off. We urge you to maintain the 2014 Farm Bill’s negotiated mandatory funding levels for all conservation programs, including the RCPP.

In order to follow a common sense path to maintain economically viable well run farms and to have healthy local water and a restored Chesapeake Bay, which is critical for our regional economy, we request full funding for all conservation programs in the Farm Bill for Fiscal Year 2018.

Thank you for your consideration on this very important request to maintain funding for these programs which are critical to both our agricultural community and for clean water throughout the mid-Atlantic region. Please contact Peter J. Marx at 410-905-2515 or peter@choosecleanwater.org with any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

1000 Friends of Maryland

Alice Ferguson Foundation

Alliance for Sustainable Communities

Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay

Anacostia Watershed Society

Audubon Naturalist Society

Back Creek Conservancy

Blue Water Baltimore

Cacapon Institute

Capital Region Land Conservancy

Catskill Mountainkeeper

Cecil Land Use Association

Center for Progressive Reform

Chapman Forest Foundation

Chesapeake Legal Alliance

Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage

Chester River Association

Clean Water Action

Coalition for Smarter Growth

Conservation Montgomery

Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania

Delaware Nature Society

Ducks Unlimited

Earth Force

Earth Forum of Howard County

Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation

Eastern Shore Land Conservancy

EcoLatinos

Elizabeth River Project

Elk Creeks Watershed Association

Environment America

Environment Maryland

Environment New York

Environment Virginia

Environmental Working Group

Envision Frederick County

Friends of Accotink Creek

Friends of Dyke Marsh

Friends of Lower Beaverdam Creek

Friends of Quincy Run

Friends of the Middle River

Friends of the Nanticoke River

Friends of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River

Friends of the Rappahannock

Goose Creek Association

Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake

Izaak Walton League of America

James River Association

Lackawanna River Conservation Association

Lancaster Farmland Trust

Little Falls Watershed Alliance

Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper

Lynnhaven River NOW

Maryland Conservation Council

Maryland League of Conservation Voters

Mattawoman Watershed Society

Mehoopany Creek Watershed Association

Mid-Atlantic Council Trout Unlimited

Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper

Montgomery Countryside Alliance

National Aquarium

National Parks Conservation Association

National Wildlife Federation

Nature Abounds

New York League of Conservation Voters

New York State Council of Trout Unlimited

Natural Resources Defense Council

Neighbors of the Northwest Branch

Otsego County Conservation Association

Otsego Land Trust

PennEnvironment

PennFuture

Pennsylvania Council of Churches

Piedmont Environmental Council

Potomac Conservancy

Potomac Riverkeeper

Potomac Riverkeeper Network

Queen Anne’s Conservation Association

Rivanna Conservation Alliance

Rock Creek Conservancy

St. Mary's River Watershed Association

Sassafras River Association

Savage River Watershed Association

Severn River Association

Shenandoah Riverkeeper

Shenandoah Valley Network

Sidney Center Improvement Group

Sleepy Creek Watershed Association

South River Federation

SouthWings

Sparks-Glencoe Community Planning Council

Susquehanna Heritage

Trout Unlimited

Upper Potomac Riverkeeper

Upper Susquehanna Coalition

Virginia Conservation Network

Virginia League of Conservation Voters

Waterkeepers Chesapeake

West/Rhode Riverkeeper

West Virginia Citizen Action Group

West Virginia Environmental Council

West Virginia Rivers Coalition

Wetlands Watch

Wicomico Environmental Trust

 

Senate Interior Appropriations Letter

PDF Version: Senate Interior Appropriations Letter

March 23, 2017

The Honorable Ken Calvert, Chairman
Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies
2007 Rayburn House Office Building
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Betty McCollum, Ranking Minority Member
Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies
1016 Longworth House Office Building
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Chairman Calvert and Ranking Member McCollum:

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 2018:

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. The majority of the program’s funds are passed through to the states and local communities for on-the-ground restoration work through programs such as 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 in FY 2016. 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. 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 language in the FY 2016 Consolidated Appropriations Act, where Congress protected these critical local grant programs: “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 the same language in the FY 2018 Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, for both the overall Chesapeake Bay Program and for the local grant programs.

Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) --$4.047 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 triple the current funding for the Clean Water SRF – and this 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 $4.047 billion funding level that would provide $891 million in low interest loans to local governments in Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia – triple 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 triple the funding of the Clean Water SRF from last year’s FY16 levels.

Department of the Interior

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) -- Chesapeake Bay Studies -- $11.991 million

We support level funding from FY 2016 of $11.991 million for the USGS 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 focuses on monitoring and assessing fisheries, waterfowl and the quality of their habitats, which provide economic benefits to the states involved in the Chesapeake restoration effort and represent the priorities of the Department of the Interior.

USGS activities are critical for the restoration of several freshwater fish species, including brook trout, an important recreational fishery. A related activity is identifying chemicals, and their sources, which lead to fish consumption advisories for humans. USGS also provides the expertise to restore and conserve coastal wetlands, critical habitat and food for the more than one million waterfowl that winter in the Chesapeake region. USGS helps to coordinate the collection and assessment of monitoring data collected by the states and USGS. These assessments will help the states focus on areas and types of practices, for more effective approaches toward water quality improvements.

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 will help state and federal partners more effectively focus actions and utilize available resources.

National Park Service -- Chesapeake Regional Programs -- $3.0261 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 ($385,000); Star Spangled Banner National Historic Trail ($150,600); support for coordinating these programs through the National Park Service Chesapeake Bay Office ($476,500); and the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Trails ($2.014 million). 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/Bureau of Land Management/U.S. Forest Service - Rivers of the Chesapeake Collaborative Landscape Planning Projects – Land and Water Conservation Fund - $30.519 million

We support continuation of the strategic use of funds from the Land and Water Conservation Fund for the Rivers of the Chesapeake Collaborative Landscape Planning initiative. This effort targets conservation funds for priority landscapes throughout the country; the Rivers of the Chesapeake is one such priority area. The collaborative proposal focuses on the great rivers of the Chesapeake and would protect 8,000 acres in the Potomac, Rappahannock, James, Nanticoke and Susquehanna watersheds in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia. The areas in the Chesapeake include 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.

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 peter@choosecleanwater.org with any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

1000 Friends of Maryland
Alice Ferguson Foundation
Alliance for Sustainable Communities
Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay
American Rivers
Anacostia Watershed Society
Audubon Naturalist Society
Back Creek Conservancy
Blue Water Baltimore
Cacapon Institute
Capital Region Land Conservancy
Catskill Mountainkeeper
Cecil Land Use Association
Center for Progressive Reform
Chapman Forest Foundation
Chesapeake Legal Alliance
Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage
Chester River Association
Clean Water Action Coalition for Smarter Growth
Conservation Montgomery
Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania
Delaware Nature Society
Ducks Unlimited
Earth Force
Earth Forum of Howard County
Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation
Eastern Shore Land Conservancy
EcoLatinos
Elizabeth River Project
Elk Creeks Watershed Association
Environment America
Environment Maryland
Environment New York
Environment Virginia
Environmental Working Group
Envision Frederick County
Friends of Accotink Creek
Friends of Dyke Marsh
Friends of Lower Beaverdam Creek
Friends of Quincy Run
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
Goose Creek Association
Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake
Izaak Walton League of America
James River Association
Lackawanna River Conservation Association
Lancaster Farmland Trust
Little Falls Watershed Alliance
Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper
Lynnhaven River NOW
Maryland Conservation Council
Maryland League of Conservation Voters
Mattawoman Watershed Society
Mehoopany Creek Watershed Association
Mid-Atlantic Council Trout Unlimited
Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper
Montgomery Countryside Alliance
National Aquarium
National Parks Conservation Association
National Wildlife Federation
Nature Abounds
New York League of Conservation Voters
New York State Council of Trout Unlimited
Natural Resources Defense Council
Neighbors of the Northwest Branch
Otsego County Conservation Association
Otsego Land Trust
PennEnvironment
PennFuture
Pennsylvania Council of Churches
Piedmont Environmental Council
Potomac Conservancy
Potomac Riverkeeper
Potomac Riverkeeper Network
Queen Anne’s Conservation Association
Rivanna Conservation Alliance
Rock Creek Conservancy
St. Mary's River Watershed Association
Sassafras River 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
SouthWings
Sparks-Glencoe Community Planning Council
Susquehanna Heritage
Trout Unlimited
Upper Potomac Riverkeeper
Upper Susquehanna Coalition
Virginia Conservation Network
Virginia League of Conservation Voters
Waterkeepers Chesapeake
West/Rhode Riverkeeper
West Virginia Citizen Action Group
West Virginia Environmental Council
West Virginia Rivers Coalition
Wetlands Watch
Wicomico Environmental Trust

House Interior Appropriations Letter

PDF Version: House Interior Appropriations Letter 

March 23, 2017

The Honorable Ken Calvert, Chairman
Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies
2007 Rayburn House Office Building
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Betty McCollum, Ranking Minority Member
Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies
1016 Longworth House Office Building
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Chairman Calvert and Ranking Member McCollum:

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 2018:

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. The majority of the program’s funds are passed through to the states and local communities for on-the-ground restoration work through programs such as 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 in FY 2016. 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. 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 language in the FY 2016 Consolidated Appropriations Act, where Congress protected these critical local grant programs: “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 the same language in the FY 2018 Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, for both the overall Chesapeake Bay Program and for the local grant programs.

Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) --$4.047 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 triple the current funding for the Clean Water SRF – and this 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 $4.047 billion funding level that would provide $891 million in low interest loans to local governments in Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia – triple 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 triple the funding of the Clean Water SRF from last year’s FY16 levels.

Department of the Interior

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) -- Chesapeake Bay Studies -- $11.991 million

We support level funding from FY 2016 of $11.991 million for the USGS 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 focuses on monitoring and assessing fisheries, waterfowl and the quality of their habitats, which provide economic benefits to the states involved in the Chesapeake restoration effort and represent the priorities of the Department of the Interior.

USGS activities are critical for the restoration of several freshwater fish species, including brook trout, an important recreational fishery. A related activity is identifying chemicals, and their sources, which lead to fish consumption advisories for humans. USGS also provides the expertise to restore and conserve coastal wetlands, critical habitat and food for the more than one million waterfowl that winter in the Chesapeake region. USGS helps to coordinate the collection and assessment of monitoring data collected by the states and USGS. These assessments will help the states focus on areas and types of practices, for more effective approaches toward water quality improvements.

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 will help state and federal partners more effectively focus actions and utilize available resources.

National Park Service -- Chesapeake Regional Programs -- $3.0261 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 ($385,000); Star Spangled Banner National Historic Trail ($150,600); support for coordinating these programs through the National Park Service Chesapeake Bay Office ($476,500); and the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Trails ($2.014 million). 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/Bureau of Land Management/U.S. Forest Service - Rivers of the Chesapeake Collaborative Landscape Planning Projects – Land and Water Conservation Fund - $30.519 million

We support continuation of the strategic use of funds from the Land and Water Conservation Fund for the Rivers of the Chesapeake Collaborative Landscape Planning initiative. This effort targets conservation funds for priority landscapes throughout the country; the Rivers of the Chesapeake is one such priority area. The collaborative proposal focuses on the great rivers of the Chesapeake and would protect 8,000 acres in the Potomac, Rappahannock, James, Nanticoke and Susquehanna watersheds in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia. The areas in the Chesapeake include 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.

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 peter@choosecleanwater.org with any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

1000 Friends of Maryland
Alice Ferguson Foundation
Alliance for Sustainable Communities
Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay
American Rivers
Anacostia Watershed Society
Audubon Naturalist Society
Back Creek Conservancy
Blue Water Baltimore
Cacapon Institute
Capital Region Land Conservancy
Catskill Mountainkeeper
Cecil Land Use Association
Center for Progressive Reform
Chapman Forest Foundation
Chesapeake Legal Alliance
Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage
Chester River Association
Clean Water Action Coalition for Smarter Growth
Conservation Montgomery
Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania
Delaware Nature Society
Ducks Unlimited
Earth Force
Earth Forum of Howard County
Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation
Eastern Shore Land Conservancy
EcoLatinos
Elizabeth River Project
Elk Creeks Watershed Association
Environment America
Environment Maryland
Environment New York
Environment Virginia
Environmental Working Group
Envision Frederick County
Friends of Accotink Creek
Friends of Dyke Marsh
Friends of Lower Beaverdam Creek
Friends of Quincy Run
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
Goose Creek Association
Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake
Izaak Walton League of America
James River Association
Lackawanna River Conservation Association
Lancaster Farmland Trust
Little Falls Watershed Alliance
Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper
Lynnhaven River NOW
Maryland Conservation Council
Maryland League of Conservation Voters
Mattawoman Watershed Society
Mehoopany Creek Watershed Association
Mid-Atlantic Council Trout Unlimited
Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper
Montgomery Countryside Alliance
National Aquarium
National Parks Conservation Association
National Wildlife Federation
Nature Abounds
New York League of Conservation Voters
New York State Council of Trout Unlimited
Natural Resources Defense Council
Neighbors of the Northwest Branch
Otsego County Conservation Association
Otsego Land Trust
PennEnvironment
PennFuture
Pennsylvania Council of Churches
Piedmont Environmental Council
Potomac Conservancy
Potomac Riverkeeper
Potomac Riverkeeper Network
Queen Anne’s Conservation Association
Rivanna Conservation Alliance
Rock Creek Conservancy
St. Mary's River Watershed Association
Sassafras River 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
SouthWings
Sparks-Glencoe Community Planning Council
Susquehanna Heritage
Trout Unlimited
Upper Potomac Riverkeeper
Upper Susquehanna Coalition
Virginia Conservation Network
Virginia League of Conservation Voters
Waterkeepers Chesapeake
West/Rhode Riverkeeper
West Virginia Citizen Action Group
West Virginia Environmental Council
West Virginia Rivers Coalition
Wetlands Watch
Wicomico Environmental Trust