November 09, 2009

CARDIN CHAIRS LEGISLATIVE HEARING ON CHESAPEAKE BAY AND GULF OF MEXICO AUTHORIZATIONS

 

 

 

Washington, DC -- U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), chairman of the Environment and Public Works Water and Wildlife Subcommittee today called for timely action on two bills critical to the health of our nation's great water bodies: the Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. At a legislative hearing to review S. 1816, the Chesapeake Clean Water and Ecosystem Restoration Act, and S. 1311, the Gulf of Mexico Restoration and Protection Act , Senator Cardin highlighted the critical role the federal government must play in coordinating regional clean-up activity.    
 
"The Chesapeake Bay and Gulf of Mexico are two of our nation's most treasured water bodies. Both the Bay and the Gulf are rich with resources, but they also are both seriously threatened by pollutants, especially nutrients and sediments. Together, the Chesapeake Clean Water and Ecosystem Restoration Act, and the Gulf of Mexico Restoration and Protection Act strengthen and formalize programs that have been working to coalesce federal, state, regional, and even international partnerships.
 
"Over the past 20 years, the Chesapeake Bay program and the Gulf of Mexico program have made significant progress but more work is urgently needed. Voluntary compliance by states has only taken us so far and has always left us short of our ultimate goal. Through the Chesapeake Clean Water and Ecosystem Restoration Act, especially, expanded incentives to state and local jurisdictions are finally matched by stronger targets, greater federal financial resources, and consequences for inaction. The Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Mexico are two great bodies of water that serves as the backbones of their respective regional economies. We can no longer afford to put the health and viability of our fish, wildlife, farmland, and community health at risk."
 
The Chesapeake Bay Program was established under the Clean Water Act as a formal program office in the EPA more than 20 years ago. The Gulf of Mexico program has been operating for roughly the same time, but only as an administratively organized effort, not a formally authorized program.
 
The Chesapeake Bay is home to 17 million people as well as our nation's capital. It is the largest estuary in North America, and has been internationally recognized as a region of ecological significance. The Gulf of Mexico is the ninth-largest body of water in the world and contains half of the coastal wetlands in the United States. It links five of our states to Mexico, Cuba, and the Caribbean Sea.