By: Diane Bernard, Public News Service
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — An almost $1.5 trillion spending plan the Senate is set to vote on Thursday includes a dramatic 16% budget increase for Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts, according to Jason Rano, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s federal executive director.
If the bill passes, Rano says the Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay Program will get an extra $12 million, a huge win for the group.
He says the funds will be put toward controlling pollution runoff and reducing the bay’s high levels of nutrients and sediments.
“Certainly these are these target areas of need and, I think, most importantly provide great bang for the taxpayer buck,” he states.
With bipartisan support, the spending deal is expected to pass the Senate, barring complications from the impeachment hearings for President Donald Trump.
In March, the Trump administration had proposed slashing the Chesapeake Bay program to a little more than $7 million, which advocates said would have devastated the successful cleanup.
Rano says the proposed increased funding comes from a major bipartisan push on Capitol Hill. He points out that the cleanup program was formed to uphold a “pollution diet” the EPA established for the bay in 2010.
“Progress has been made, species are thriving, underwater grasses are coming back, states are making progress,” Rano points out. “But there is still work to be done, especially in Pennsylvania.”
The cleanup goal is to get the bay and its tributaries off the Clean Water Act’s Impaired Waters list by 2025. The efforts are a collaboration among the federal government and six states, including Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., which fall within the Chesapeake watershed.