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Legislation Could Bring Funding to PA for Chesapeake Bay Cleanup


Monday, August 23, 2021   

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Pennsylvania is behind on its goal to reduce pollution into Chesapeake Bay, and clean-water proponents say legislation in Harrisburg focused on sustainable agriculture could help the state get on track.

One step PA could take would be establishing an Agricultural Conservation Assistance Program, which would fund projects for farmers to plant trees or bushes next to streams or waterways near their land.

Half of the fresh water that flows into the bay comes from Pennsylvania, and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Pennsylvania Executive Director Shannon Gority said these so-called riparian buffers could help filter out nitrogen and phosphorous from the farms before they reach the local water and, ultimately, the bay.

"But having the funding to train the people," said Gority, "to implement and then be able to reimburse the farmers for some of their expenses in operating it, is pretty much the only thing that's going to get us to where we need to be with respect to reduce nitrogen and phosphorous in our local waters and in the bay."

The Agricultural Conservation Assistance Program, or A-CAP, was introduced by State Sen. Gene Yaw - R-Williamsport. It was re-referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee in June.

Gority said other pieces of legislation that could help the state reach the necessary blueprint milestones, include U.S. Senator Bob Casey's REVIVE the CCC Act, which would bring back the 1930s work relief program to address the climate crisis.

Yaw has also proposed a Clean Streams Fund, which would use a portion of the state's American Rescue Plan funds for the A-CAP program.

"It's really important that all of the watershed work together to protect the waters in the bay," said Gority. "Because not only is it saving the bay, but when we save all the local waters that go into the bay, we're impacting our own water quality, our own environment, our local environment."

According to the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, which was signed by the six states that are part of the watershed, Pennsylvania is required to have a pollution reduction plan in place by 2025.

Disclosure: Chesapeake Bay Foundation contributes to our fund for reporting on Energy Policy, Rural/Farming, Sustainable Agriculture, Water. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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