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Funds for Chesapeake Bay Survive in Federal Spending Bill

The federal spending bill includes $73 million for Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts. (Chesapeake Bay Program)
The federal spending bill includes $73 million for Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts. (Chesapeake Bay Program)
March 23, 2018

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The spring snowstorm didn't stop Chesapeake Bay advocates from making their way to the nation's capital this week, where they warned members of Congress that many of the bay-restoration programs will be placed on ice if they don't get full funding.

It's the second year the Trump administration has proposed cutting federal funds for the Chesapeake Bay Program, a regional partnership between states to help restore the bay. This year's proposal would have cut the $73 million budget by 90 percent.

But Chanté Coleman, director of the Choose Clean Water Coalition, says her group of about 200 members stormed Capitol Hill with success stories about the progress of the bay cleanup efforts – and it worked.

"So, we were able to get the funding back by going and meeting with our members of Congress in all of our watershed states,” says Coleman. “So that's Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia and the District of Columbia."

The $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill working its way through Congress overrides the Trump administration's proposed cuts in the current fiscal year, and would maintain the Chesapeake Bay Program funding at last year's level.

Coleman says there is broad bipartisan support for the Chesapeake Bay, and lawmakers simply want proof that cleanup efforts are working – proof she says coalition members were ready to provide.

"We've seen submerged aquatic vegetation come back, and these are the grasses that are home to snails and seahorses, and blue crabs,” she says. “We talk about that progress. We talk about the importance of local water quality and community health."

That funding, she adds, goes directly to the projects yielding those positive results.

Congressional leaders are racing to approve the federal funding bill today, to avoid another shutdown when government spending authority expires.

The Choose Clean Water Coalition includes some 230 local, state and regional national groups advocating for clean rivers and streams in the Chesapeake region.

Trimmel Gomes, Public News Service - MD