President Donald Trump recently released his budget for fiscal 2018, which recommends that the $73 million budget for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay Program be eliminated and shutdown.
This would stop the cleanup of Chesapeake Bay and undo the progress made. The budget also includes spending cuts for programs related to clean air and water, environmental justice, climate change and other programs that protect the environment.
The Chesapeake Bay watershed is made up of a network of rivers and streams, sources of recreation, food and drinking water. Members of the tourism and fishing industry depend on the bay to provide for their families, with the bay’s economic worth estimated at over $1 trillion. In addition, over 13 million people from six different states and the District of Columbia rely on the bay’s rivers and streams to provide the water that they drink. The Chesapeake Bay restoration effort is not only about saving an estuary, it is about protecting the water that residents depend on.
Bay Program funding supports on the ground restoration efforts that are improving communities and protecting local waterways around the watershed. The 226 organizations that make up the Choose Clean Water Coalition are just some of the organizations responsible for implementing these restoration projects, and with no funding, grant programs that help sustain and support work would disappear, leaving organizations with little to no support to implement projects.
The Bay Program is an example of cooperative federalism, where federal agencies and states work collaboratively, with EPA providing resources and expertise to the states, which responsible for cleaning their own waters. Just a few weeks ago, 17 members of the House, both Democrat and Republican, sent a letter to Trump requesting full funding for the Chesapeake Bay Program. The coalition will work with members of Congress to continue to push back on this proposed budget and secure the funding that is necessary to return clean water to the Chesapeake Bay.