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Van Hollen, Sarbanes Lead Bicameral Letter Urging House and Senate Conference Negotiators to Include Increased Funds for Chesapeake Bay Program

November 21, 2019

Today, U.S.
Senator Chris Van Hollen and U.S. Representative John Sarbanes (both D-Md.) led
a letter to House and Senate leadership, urging conference negotiators to
include significant increases in funding to the Chesapeake Bay Program within
the final Fiscal Year 2020 funding bill. Senator Van Hollen, a member of the
Appropriations Committee, and his Bay colleagues fought to pass an increase of
$5.28 million – for a total $78.28 million – in the Republican-led Senate’s
funding legislation. But to fully invest in the health of the Bay, the Members
urge conference negotiators to support the House-passed funding of $85 million.
 

 

The Members
write,
“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.”

 

They
continue,
“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.”

 

In addition to
Senator Van Hollen and Representative Sarbanes, the letter was signed by
Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), Kirsten Gillibrand
(D-N.Y.), Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Robert P. Casey,
Jr. (D-Pa.), Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.), and Joe Manchin (D-W.V.).

 

In the U.S. House of Representatives, the letter is signed by
Representatives Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-Va.), Robert J. Wittman (R-Va.),
Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), Abigail D. Spanberger (D-Va.), Gerald E. Connolly
(D-Va.), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.), Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), Anthony G. Brown
(D-Md.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Donald S. Beyer Jr. (D-Va.), Jennifer Wexton
(D-Va.), C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), Elaine G. Luria (D-Va.), A. Donald
McEachin (D-Va.), David Trone (D-Md.),
Denver Riggleman (R-Va.), Chrissy Houlahan (D-Pa.), Lloyd Smucker (R-Pa.), and
Daniel P. Meuser (R-Pa.).

 

The full text of
the letter is available here
and below.

 

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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