Chesapeake Bay Watershed Task Force Leads House Passage of Comprehensive Effort to Protect the Chesapeake Bay
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Chesapeake Bay Watershed Task Force Co-Chairs Reps. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), John Sarbanes (D-Md.), Rob Wittman (R-Va.) and Andy Harris, M.D. (R-Md.) today led the U.S. House of Representatives in passing the America's Conservation Enhancement (ACE) Act, a bill that includes several provisions to help boost conservation and cleanup efforts across the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
“Today's passage of the ACE Act is a significant step forward in the journey to achieving the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint and protecting the Bay for future generations,” said Congressman Scott. “I am pleased that this package includes Chesapeake WILD, a bill I introduced that will help restore the Bay and its tributaries while also increasing recreational opportunities; preserve critical habitat for fish and wildlife; and mitigate flooding throughout the watershed”
“Today, the House took a tremendously important step forward to protect the long-term health of the Chesapeake Bay and to ensure that it remains an environmental treasure and an economic driver for years to come,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “The ACE Act will make record investments in the Chesapeake Bay Program, a successful federal-state partnership to reduce pollution in the Bay. It will also establish a number of initiatives to help restore ecosystems throughout the Watershed and expand recreational opportunities for millions of residents across the region. We will continue working together – across the aisle – to strengthen the health of the Bay and protect it for future generations.”
“The ACE Act is a once in a generation advancement to clean-up the Chesapeake Bay and protect and conserve our natural environment across America,” said Congressman Wittman. “The Bay is a national treasure, and the ACE Act provides additional resources and extends critical conservation programs the preserve wetlands, reduce pollution and increase recreational opportunities in Virginia.”
“It’s important that Congress acted in bipartisan fashion to help restore the Chesapeake Bay in the waning days of the 116th Congress,” said Congressman Harris. “This action sends a strong signal that preservation of the Bay is truly a national priority.”
The ACE Act contains several bipartisan bills introduced and advanced by the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Task Force, including:
- Reauthorizing the Chesapeake Bay Program at $92 million annually – a meaningful boost from the previous $73 million annual federal investment in the program;
- The Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Reauthorization Act (H.R. 2427); and
- The Chesapeake Watershed Investments for Landscape Defense (Chesapeake WILD) Act.
Before the ACE Act passed the House, Congressman Sarbanes delivered remarks in support of the bill. See below for a video and a transcript of the Congressman’s remarks.
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“Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
“I rise today in support of S. 3051, the America's Conservation Enhancement (ACE) Act.
“I just want to thank Congressman Wittman for all his work. We’ve partnered together, as he indicated, on the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Task Force, with Congressman Harris and Congressman Scott. I want to salute the efforts of Congresswoman Luria in introducing and authoring the Chesapeake Bay Program Reauthorization Act, which I was proud to co-sponsor.
“This is an exciting day. This bill has taken a winding road, as these things do, but we’re close to the finish line here and we look forward to passage of the bill. It’s bipartisan, it’s bicameral, it will conserve and protect fish and wildlife habitats, support outdoor recreation and combat invasive species — as we’ve heard — and it includes these several bipartisan provisions that will protect the long-term health of the Chesapeake Bay.
“Specifically, as I indicated, two bills – one, the Chesapeake Bay Program Reauthorization Act and another one, the Chesapeake Watershed Investments for Landscape Defense, or Chesapeake WILD Act, which would establish a grant program to bolster habitat restoration and protection throughout the Watershed.
“It also includes a bill I was proud to introduce, the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network Reauthorization Act, which would expect recreational opportunities for millions of Marylanders and Bay Watershed residents across the region.
“It’s comprehensive. It will significantly boost the health of the Bay and ensure that it remains an environmental treasure and an economic driver for years to come.
“As Congressman Wittman said, we’ve worked together on the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Task Force, and through that Task Force, we’ve pulled together real bipartisan support for this effort.
“As the largest estuary in the U.S., the Chesapeake Bay is an important ecosystem – a model for restoration efforts throughout the country – and that is in large part due to our successful bipartisan work at the federal, state and local levels.
“I’d like to thank Chair Grijalva, our House leadership and their staff for their work to negotiate a bipartisan and bicameral environmental conservation package.
“I urge my colleagues to vote in favor of this important legislation so that our nation’s natural habitats and scenic landscapes – like the Chesapeake Bay – can be enjoyed for generations to come.
“Thank you, and I yield back my time.”