Sarbanes Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Help Restore the Chesapeake Bay

Legislation Would Encourage Conservation Throughout the Chesapeake Bay Watershed
November 16, 2017
CONTACT: Daniel Jacobs
(202) 225-4016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Chesapeake Bay Task Force Co-Chair Rep. John Sarbanes today joined Congressmen Bobby Scott (D-Va.) and Rob Wittman (R-Va.) to introduce the bipartisan Chesapeake Bay Farm Bill Enhancements Act of 2017. The bill increases mandatory funding for the Bay, strengthens the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCCP) and provides more opportunities for effective conservation efforts.

Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) introduced the Senate companion measure with bipartisan support. The legislation is supported by a bipartisan group of Bay State Governors, along with more than 70 conservation groups.

“This bill will help step up conservation efforts and encourage environmental stewardship throughout the Chesapeake Bay Watershed,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “The bevy of support for this bill – from Democrats and Republicans at local, state and federal governments across the entire mid-Atlantic region – is a testament to our shared commitment to protect the Bay for future generations.”

In the 2008 Farm Bill, Congress authorized the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative to help agricultural producers minimize excess nutrients and sediments to restore, preserve and protect the Chesapeake Bay. On average, approximately $50 million was invested annually in the Chesapeake Bay through in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative. In 2014, the RCPP was created in order to prioritize conservation resources that were previously handled by separate conservation programs, such as the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative. Unfortunately, under the RCPP, the Chesapeake Bay has received significantly less funding – averaging around $13 million annually.

The Chesapeake Bay Farm Bill Enhancements Act would help restore some of this much-needed funding by tripling the amount of mandatory RCPP funding available per fiscal year from $100 million to $300 million. The bill would also improve technical assistance for partners and prioritize projects that improve water quality and water quantity and implement multi-state watershed restoration plans.

“Improving conservation practices throughout the Chesapeake Bay Watershed is critical to our continued federal efforts to help restore the Chesapeake Bay,” said Congressman Scott, Co-Chair of the Chesapeake Bay Task Force. “By strengthening the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, we can make sure that those throughout the Watershed have the opportunity to implement these practices and reduce pollution of the Chesapeake Bay in a cost-effective way. This bill is yet another step in fulfilling President Ronald Reagan’s promise of undertaking ‘the long, necessary effort to clean up… the Chesapeake Bay.’”

“Farms and agriculture are vital to the Commonwealth; and farmers are committed to the stewardship and protection of the Chesapeake Bay,” said Congressman Rob Wittman, Co-Chair of the Chesapeake Bay Task Force. “This effort will ensure increased resources go directly to on-the-ground conservation projects that support farmers and restore the Chesapeake Bay.”

A letter from Bay State Governors that supports the bill can be found here. A letter from conservation groups that supports the bill can be found here.

Additional information about the Chesapeake Bay Farm Bill Enhancements Act: