Congressman John Sarbanes

Representing the 3rd District of Maryland

Sarbanes, Scott, Van Hollen Lead Bipartisan, Bicameral Letter Urging House and Senate Appropriators to Increase Funding for the Chesapeake Bay Program

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 21, 2019
Contact: Daniel Jacobs
(202) 225-4016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Chesapeake Bay Watershed Task Force Co-Chairs Reps. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) and Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-Va.) today joined U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) in leading a bipartisan, bicameral letter urging House and Senate appropriators to increase funding for the Chesapeake Bay Program.

“As the House and Senate negotiate the final Fiscal Year 2020 funding bill, we urge you to accept the funding level with the increased allocation according to the adopted report language from the House-passed Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Bill, which provides $85 million in funding for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Chesapeake Bay Program,” the Members wrote.

“The Chesapeake Bay is an economic driver for the entire region – including recreation, education and commercial enterprises,” the Members continued. “It is critical that the Chesapeake Bay restoration effort meet its 2025 pollution reduction goals.”

The Members concluded: “The Chesapeake Bay Program is a national model for clean water partnerships and an important bellwether for the success of other major body of water restoration efforts around the country. We are within sight of delivering clean water. For these reasons, we hope you will support funding the program at $85 million in the conference report.”

 See below for a full copy of the letter.

* * *

Dear Chairman Shelby, Vice Chairman Leahy, Chairwoman Lowey, Ranking Member Granger:

As the House and Senate negotiate the final Fiscal Year 2020 funding bill, we urge you to accept the funding level with the increased allocation according to the adopted report language from the House-passed Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Bill, which provides $85 million in funding for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Chesapeake Bay Program.

Since the states and EPA agreed to the Chesapeake Bay watershed restoration goals in 2010, much progress has been made towards improving the health of the watershed. Today, we are at a critical juncture in Chesapeake Bay restoration. Positive signs of recovery have emerged in the Chesapeake Bay itself and in tributaries throughout the entire watershed, proving that the collaborative restoration effort is working. We are more than half-way to achieving the shared goal of clean water by 2025.

But as the 2025 deadline approaches, it is clear that more resources are needed to continue the progress made. New research pertaining to increased nutrient and sediment flows through the Conowingo Dam indicates that we must reduce over 6 million pounds of pollution beyond the original 2010 targets. To address this issue, in December 2017, the Chesapeake Bay Program Principals’ Staff Committee (PSC) agreed to work collaboratively on a separate Conowingo Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP).

More broadly, although we now know what conservation practices provide the greatest return, we lack funding for implementation at the scale required. Dollars are needed at three levels: 1) the small watershed and innovative practices grant programs; 2) local government technical assistance and implementation; and 3) state-based targeted and cost-effective implementation.

We appreciate the $5.28 million increase for a total of $78.28 million for the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program passed in the recent Senate minibus, but we think the resource needs in the Chesapeake Bay watershed demonstrate a need for an increase to $85 million. By increasing the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program funding level to $85 million, it would be possible to achieve significant measurable results in each of these areas, and each federal dollar leverages many more in State, local and private funding.

The Chesapeake Bay is an economic driver for the entire region – including recreation, education, and commercial enterprises. It is critical that the Chesapeake Bay restoration effort meet its 2025 pollution reduction goals. The Chesapeake Bay Program is a national model for clean water partnerships and an important bellwether for the success of other major body of water restoration efforts around the country. We are within sight of delivering clean water. For these reasons, we hope you will support funding the program at $85 million in the conference report.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.                                                           

Sincerely,

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