WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (both D-Md.), with Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-Va.), Senators Bob Casey and John Fetterman (both D-Pa.), and Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) today reintroduced the Chesapeake Bay Science, Education and Ecosystem Enhancement (SEEE) Act, which aims to restore the health of the Bay Watershed, strengthen fisheries management, and expand environmental education programs for residents across the Bay Watershed. The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the U.S. More than 150,000 streams and rivers thread through the Chesapeake’s 64,000-square-mile watershed, which is home to 18 million people across Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. Companion legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by Representatives John Sarbanes (D-Md.-3), Bobby Scott (D-Va.-3) and Rob Wittman (R-Va.-1).
“The Chesapeake Bay is a national treasure and our responsibility to do all we can to restore its health remains a top priority,” said Senator Cardin. “The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is an indispensable partner in the Chesapeake Bay Program, leading the partnership’s fisheries, environmental literacy, climate resilience and habitat restoration work. I’m proud to work with my Bay watershed colleagues to secure NOAA’s strong presence in our region to meet the challenges ahead.”
“A cleaner Chesapeake Bay is essential to the success of our state’s economy and the health of our environment. This legislation will help ensure we can continue to count on NOAA’s expertise and other crucial partners at the Chesapeake Bay Office and environmental education programs that have supported Bay restoration efforts over the years. It is a key part of our all-hands-on-deck fight to protect and preserve the Bay for generations to come,” said Senator Van Hollen.
“The Chesapeake Bay is not only an important recreational and ecological treasure, it’s also a vital economic engine for Virginia,” said Senator Warner. “I am proud to reintroduce this legislation supporting NOAA’s Chesapeake Bay office to improve the health of the Bay and ensure its sustainable use for generations to come.”
“The Chesapeake Bay is a natural treasure that drives tourism and boosts our economy,” Senator Kaine said. “I’m proud to introduce this bill to leverage collaboration with universities, nonprofits, and other stakeholders to protect the Bay’s ecosystems and help ensure Americans can enjoy it for years to come.”
“I am proud to cosponsor this bipartisan, bicameral legislation to support restoring the health of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, an incredible wildlife area that includes multiple counties in West Virginia. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle as we work to reauthorize the NOAA Chesapeake Bay office and the programs they support to benefit the habitats in our state and across the Chesapeake Bay region,” said Senator Manchin.
Specifically, the Chesapeake Bay SEEE Act would:
- Reauthorize the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office (CBO), a key partner of the Bay Program and leader of the Program’s fisheries, environmental literacy, climate resiliency, and habitat work. The bill would allow NOAA CBO to collaborate with universities, nonprofits, and other Bay stakeholders to promote integrated coastal observations – such as monitoring and observing restoration activities, collecting and analyzing marine resources data – and information sharing to assist policymakers, resource managers, and the public.
- Direct NOAA to support coordinated management, protection, characterization, and restoration of Bay habitats and living resources, as well as the Interpretive Buoy System along the Capital John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail.
- Authorize the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) program, which awards educational grants related to Bay restoration.
A copy of the bill text can be found here.