WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.) have introduced bipartisan legislation (S.1429) to reauthorize the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Chesapeake Bay Program, a keystone regional partnership that works to restore the health of this national treasure. Water and pollution do not abide by state borders, making it essential that all watershed states have access to the resources that best contribute to the restoration and sustained health of the Chesapeake Bay.
“A healthy Bay means a healthy economy for Maryland and the entire Chesapeake Bay Watershed region, which cannot be accomplished without a reliable federal partner. I urge appropriators to take note of the bipartisan support for authorizing these programs, despite the president’s lack of understanding of their worthiness,” said Senator Cardin. “States rely on the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program to provide federal accountability, enforceability, and resources. Less pollution means more oysters and crabs, healthier farmland, more boats and tourism on the water, and more jobs.”
“Not only does the Chesapeake Bay contribute to the natural beauty of the Mid-Atlantic region, but the headwaters in West Virginia sustain important ecosystems and play a vital role in our state’s economy,” Senator Capito said. “This bipartisan legislation provides important grant funding to West Virginia, continuing our efforts to support the bay’s restoration and care and helping ensure it remains a critical natural resource for future generations.”
Created by President Reagan and ratified by Congress in 1987, the current authorization for the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program expired in Fiscal Year 2005, although Congress has appropriated funds each year. In June 2014, a new voluntary Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement was signed by the governors of the six states in the watershed, and the federal government, to work in partnership through the Chesapeake Bay Program. The agreement has ten goals to improve water quality in local rivers and streams and the Chesapeake Bay by 2025.
Each Bay Program partner uses its own resources to implement Bay restoration and protection activities. Federal program funds are used to coordinate the complex science, research, modeling, monitoring, data collection, and other activities essential to the Bay Agreement and support Partners’ collaboration. Over 60% of funds go to states, primarily through grants programs that leverage private investment for restoration activities.