Bay Representatives Introduce Bipartisan Chesapeake Restoration Legislation

November 16, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03), the co-chair of the bipartisan Chesapeake Bay Task Force, introduced the bipartisan Chesapeake Bay Farm Bill Enhancements Act of 2017. This legislation increases mandatory funding for the Bay, strengthens the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCCP), and provides more opportunities for effective conservation efforts. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) introduced the Senate companion measure with bipartisan support. The legislation is supported by Bay State Governors, including Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, Delaware Governor John Carney, District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser, and more than 70 conservation groups.

“Improving conservation practices throughout the Chesapeake Bay Watershed is critical to our continued federal efforts to help restore the Chesapeake Bay,” said Congressman Scott. “By strengthening the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, we can make sure that those throughout the Watershed have the opportunity to implement these practices and reduce pollution of the Chesapeake Bay in a cost effective way. This bill is yet another step in fulfilling President Ronald Reagan’s promise of undertaking ‘the long, necessary effort to clean up… the Chesapeake Bay.’”

“Farms and agriculture are vital to the Commonwealth; and farmers are committed to the stewardship and protection of the Chesapeake Bay,” said Congressman Rob Wittman (VA-01), Co-Chair of the Chesapeake Bay Task force. “This effort will ensure increased resources go directly to on-the-ground conservation projects that support farmers and restore the Chesapeake Bay.”

“This bill will help step up conservation efforts and encourage environmental stewardship throughout the Chesapeake Bay Watershed,” said Congressman John Sarbanes (MD-03), Co-Chair of the Chesapeake Bay Task Force. “The bevy of support for this bill – from Democrats and Republicans at local, state and federal governments across the entire mid-Atlantic region – is a testament to our shared commitment to protect the Bay for future generations.”

In the 2008 Farm Bill, Congress authorized the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative to provide assistance to agricultural producers to minimize excess nutrients and sediments in order to restore, preserve, and protect the Chesapeake Bay. On average, approximately $50 million was invested annually in the Chesapeake Bay through in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative. In 2014, the RCPP was created in order to prioritize conservation resources that were previously handled by separate conservation programs such as the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative. Unfortunately, under the RCPP, the Chesapeake Bay has received significantly less funding – averaging around $13 million annually.

The Chesapeake Bay Farm Bill Enhancements Act would help restore some of this much-needed funding by tripling the amount of mandatory RCPP funding available per fiscal year from $100 million to $300 million. The bill would also improve technical assistance for partners and prioritize projects that improve water quality and water quantity and implement multi-state watershed restoration plans.

Cosponsors of the House version of the Chesapeake Bay Farm Bill Enhancements Act:  Reps. Rob Wittman (R-VA), John Sabanes (D-MD), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Anthony Brown (D-MD), Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Dutch Ruppersburger (D-MD), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Donald McEachin (D-VA), Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), John Delaney (D-MD), and Barbara Comstock (R-VA).

Cosponsors of the Senate version of the Chesapeake Bay Farm Bill Enhancements Act:  Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Bob Casey (D-PA), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Mark Warner (D-VA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tom Carper (D-DE), Chris Coons (D-DE), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).

A letter from Bay State Governors, supporting the legislation, can be found here. A letter from groups supporting this legislation can be found here.

Additional information about the Chesapeake Bay Farm Bill Enhancements Act: