Plan to End Restoration Programs Called "Devastating" to the Bay
BALTIMORE - Advocates for Chesapeake Bay are calling the budget proposed by the Trump administration devastating, to the bay and the millions of people who rely on it for clean drinking water.
The budget proposal for fiscal year 2018 recommended that the entire $73 million budget for the Environmental Protection Agency's Chesapeake Bay Program be eliminated. Chante Coleman, field director for the Choose Clean Water Coalition, said it would stop cleanup efforts in their tracks and also would undo progress that has been made, which has led to less pollution in rivers and streams that feed into the bay.
"There's about 13 million people from across the six states and D.C. that rely on the bay for recreation and drinking water," she said. "Our tourism and fishing industries rely on the bay."
The president released his $1.1 trillion budget outline Thursday that includes a $54 billion increase in defense spending. It cuts the EPA by almost a third, leaving no money for international climate-change research or mitigation, or for the Clean Power Plan. Trump has said his goal is to rebuild the military without adding to the federal deficit.
Hedrick Belin, president of the Potomac Conservancy, said headway has been made in reducing pollution. For instance, he said, the sport-fishing industry has seen the shad population rebound, and this proposal threatens to undermine that.
"The investments, the enforcement by the federal government, working closely with states and local governments, has made a real difference," he said, "and people believe the EPA has a responsibility to protect the water we drink."
Coleman added that the elimination of bay-restoration programs could decimate some populations, including one New England favorite: the blue crab.
"Because the bay grasses have increased, which is an indication of better water quality, their population has spurred," she said, "and we in Maryland love eating blue crabs, and that will hit us personally when there are less blue crabs in the bay because the restoration money has been taken away from us."
Trump's budget proposal also calls for an end to funding for rural clean-water initiatives.
The budget proposal is online at whitehouse.gov, and information on blue crabs is at chesapeakebay.net.