03.07.19

Capito, Cardin Introduce Five-Year Reauthorization of Chesapeake Bay Program

Measure would authorize long-term funding increase, supporting regional projects in West Virginia, other watershed states

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) today announced bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Chesapeake Bay Program.

Building on previous efforts led by Senators Capito and Cardin, the Chesapeake Bay Program Reauthorization Act would provide $90 million in FY2020 with a $500,000 increase each year for the five years authorized. The vast majority of funding for the program would go directly toward states within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed – West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New York, as well as the District of Columbia – to help control pollution and manage runoff into the tributaries that feed into the bay.

“The Chesapeake Bay headwaters in West Virginia play an important role in our state’s economy,” Senator Capito said. “I’ve long supported the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program, which so many states rely on, and I am proud to join my colleagues once again in reauthorizing this important program. Doing so will provide critical grant funding to West Virginia, allowing us to continue efforts to make sure the Chesapeake Bay remains an important natural resource for future generations.”

“The health of the Chesapeake Bay depends on all of us in the region – federal, state, local, and private partners – working together toward a common goal – the preservation and restoration of the watershed, which in turn ensures better health for our citizens, economy and local wildlife,” said Senator Cardin. “States rely on the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program to provide federal accountability, enforceability, and resources. Less pollution means more oysters and crabs, healthier farmland, more boats and tourism on the water, and more jobs.”

Leading the bipartisan companion effort in the House of Representatives are: Representative Elaine Luria (Va.-02) and Chesapeake Bay Watershed Task Force Co-Chairs Representatives John Sarbanes (Md.-03), Bobby Scott (Va.-03), and Rob Wittman (Va.-01).

Text of the Chesapeake Bay Program Reauthorization Act can be found here.

BACKGROUND

Created by President Ronald Reagan and ratified by Congress in 1987, the current authorization for the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program expired in FY2005, although Congress has appropriated funds for it each year. Congress appropriated $73 million dollars for the program in FY2019.

In June 2014, a new voluntary Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement was signed by the governors of the six states in the watershed and the federal government to work in partnership through the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program. The agreement has 10 goals to improve water quality in local rivers and streams and the Chesapeake Bay by 2025.

Federal program funds are used to coordinate the complex science, research, modeling, monitoring, data collection, and other activities essential to the agreement and support partners’ collaboration. Over 60 percent of funds go to states, primarily through grants programs that leverage private investment for restoration activities. Each partner uses its own resources to implement bay restoration and protection activities. 

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