ANNAPOLIS — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation commended the U.S. House of Representatives for passing a government funding bill that includes increased federal funds for the Chesapeake Bay Program.
“As chairman of the Chesapeake Executive Council, I commend the House for agreeing to increase federal funding for the Chesapeake Bay Program,” Hogan said in a written statement. “Since March, we have been fighting the federal administration’s attempts to make cuts to the program. The Chesapeake Bay is our state’s greatest natural asset, which is why over the last five years, we’ve invested $5 billion in wide-ranging restoration efforts; as a result, we have seen marked improvements in the Bay’s health.
“Our record commitment to the Chesapeake Bay will continue as long as I am governor, but federal support is an important part of maintaining our historic momentum,” Hogan said. “I now call on the Senate to immediately follow the lead of their colleagues in the House and help our efforts to preserve this state and national treasure.”
The House of Representatives approved the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget, which included $85 million for the Bay Program, according to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. The Trump administration had proposed cutting funding for the Bay Program by 90 percent, but the House increased funding by 16 percent from $73 million.
The Bay Program coordinates the science and modeling that drive restoration efforts, provides grants to states to support the work, and funding to put practices on the ground that reduce pollution, according to CBF. Additional funds would be used to expand grant programs — one that improves water quality and habitat in small, local waterways, and a second that supports innovative and market-based approaches to reducing pollution. In addition, funds will be used to assist local governments in reducing pollution and provide increased assistance to priority watersheds that will provide the most cost-effective pollution reductions.
“This is good news for Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts, the local economies that the Bay supports, and those of us who treasure this amazing resource,” Lisa Feldt, CBF’s vice president of environmental protection and restoration, said in a written statement. “The Chesapeake Bay Program is the glue that holds the multi-state clean-up effort together and provides essential oversight to ensure that all are doing their part.
“Under the leadership of the Bay Program, we are making progress,” Feldt said. “Over time the dead zone is getting smaller, Bay grasses are rebounding, and oyster restoration is underway.
“Since President Ronald Reagan singled out the importance of restoring this national treasure in his 1984 State of the Union Address, Bay restoration has had strong bipartisan support,” Feldt said. “The Chesapeake Bay Foundation thanks Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Congressmen Dutch Ruppersberger and Matt Cartwright, and the Bay Task Force led by Congressmen Bobby Scott, John Sarbanes and Robert Wittman along with the many members of the Bay delegation who advocated for and supported this critical investment. CBF looks forward to working with the Senate to make this critical funding a reality.”