WASHINGTON – Maryland’s bipartisan congressional delegation today gathered in the U.S. Capitol to review the state of the Chesapeake Bay and the essential role that partnerships have played in restoring the health of this national treasure – the economic heart of the region. Participating in the meeting were U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (both D-Md.) and Representatives Steny H. Hoyer (Md.-05), Elijah Cummings (Md.-07), Dutch Ruppersberger (Md.-02), John P. Sarbanes (Md.-03), Andy Harris (Md.-01), John K. Delaney (Md.-06), Anthony G. Brown (Md.-04) and Jamie Raskin (Md.-08).
While the EPA serves as the lead federal partner, the Chesapeake Bay Program partnership incorporates expertise from federal agencies such as U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Park Service (NPS), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Department of Defense (DOD), Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and others. Frequent themes for the meeting were that states, including Maryland, rely greatly on these federal partners to provide important data, analysis, interpretation and coordination, and that all of the states throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed must continue working closely together as partners.
“A healthy Bay means a healthy economy, and neither can be advanced without a strong federal partner. The drastic cuts to the EPA, USDA, Army Corps and many other agencies and programs will quickly cost the American people as we sacrifice public health, our national water infrastructure, and clean air and water,” said Senator Cardin. “Congress soundly rejected the recently proposed cuts in federal funding to Chesapeake Bay-related programs in the fiscal year 2017 appropriations. We must all continue working together to ensure that our Delegation’s dedication to the Chesapeake Bay consistently builds and never wavers.”
“The Chesapeake Bay is a national treasure and central to our state’s economy – from the tourism and boating industry to watermen working on the Bay. The Maryland delegation stands together in the fight to improve the health and vitality of our Bay,” said Senator Van Hollen. “We will continue this important dialogue with the many federal, state, local, and private partners involved in this effort, and continue to build on the important progress we’ve made to clean up the Bay and preserve it for future generations.”
“The Chesapeake Bay is one of our nation’s greatest natural resources,” said Congressman Hoyer. “The health of the Bay is critically important to communities across Maryland, and especially in the Fifth District. It’s important now more than ever that we work together to prevent funding cuts to programs that help clean up our Bay. I’m glad to join with my fellow Members of the Maryland Delegation in reaffirming our commitment to the Bay.”
“I was very disappointed when President Trump’s budget abdicated the federal government’s critical role in promoting the continued recovery of the Chesapeake Bay,” Congressman Cummings said. “The Bay supports thousands of jobs from Virginia to New York, and only through coordination and cooperation between federal, state, local and private partners will we ensure that the Chesapeake Bay remains a national treasure for years to come.”
“The Bay creates a $1 trillion economy in its 6-state watershed, so coming together to protect Bay funding is the right thing to do not only for our environment, but our economy,” Congressman Ruppersberger said. “We’ve made too much progress toward meeting our clean-up goals to stop now and I am proud to join the rest of the Maryland Delegation in renewing our bipartisan commitment to Bay restoration.”
“The Chesapeake Bay Program – a longstanding, bipartisan partnership at the local, state and federal levels – has made significant progress in improving the health of the Bay,” said Congressman Sarbanes, co-chair of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Caucus. “It’s unconscionable that President Trump has proposed to eliminate funding for the Chesapeake Bay Program and jeopardize all of the progress we’ve made. I am committed to preventing the Trump Administration from following through on its plan to cut the Bay Program, and will continue to support efforts that help ensure the Bay remains an environmental treasure and economic driver for future generations.”
“Since water from several states other than Maryland flows into the Chesapeake Bay, keeping the Bay healthy needs to be a multi-state effort,” Congressman Harris said. “Coordination between federal, state, and local authorities play a vital role in protecting the Bay, and discussions like today’s allow those efforts to progress, while ensuring that the economy of the Eastern Shore, particularly the poultry and agriculture industries, are protected.”
“We love the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, but the truth is that it’s a national treasure that’s vital to the entire region’s economy. For the sake of jobs today and generations tomorrow, we need a healthy Bay and that will require all of us working together at all levels of government, working across state lines and working with the private sector. I thank Senator Cardin for organizing this meeting and for making sure that we have a coordinated effort,” said Congressman Delaney.
“The Chesapeake Bay is pillar of pride for Marylanders that supports good paying jobs, an expanding tourism industry and generates billions of dollars in economic benefits,” said Congressman Brown. “Watermen, crabbers, small businesses, and a booming outdoor recreation industry depend on a clean and healthy Bay for their livelihoods. As the largest estuary in the country, we must continue to do everything we can to protect not only the Bay itself, but also its tributaries, headwaters and wetlands from pollution and destruction. While we have made progress with clean-up efforts to restore the Chesapeake, the Administration’s proposed funding reduction to the Chesapeake Bay Program would stymie and reverse decades of conservation efforts. I will join my colleagues – from both sides of the aisle – to fight for full funding to the Bay.”
“The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in North America and the heart of our regional ecosystem in the Mid-Atlantic,” said Congressman Raskin. “We have been fighting hard and making progress for decades in the campaign to clean up the Bay and restore its health for both environmental and economic purposes. Our delegation stands ready to defend our essential historical investment in this essential natural asset.”