Congresswoman Elaine Luria Leads Bipartisan Effort to Protect and Preserve Chesapeake Bay

March 7, 2019
Press Release
Reps. Wittman, Scott, and Sarbanes Cosponsor New House Legislation to Fully Fund EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program, Providing Certainty for Next Five Years; Sens. Cardin and Capito Helming Senate Effort

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Elaine Luria (VA-02) today announced that she is leading bipartisan House legislation that would fully fund the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Chesapeake Bay Program for the next five years, ensuring that states get the resources they need to comply with their obligations to protect and preserve the Bay.

Original House cosponsors of the bipartisan Chesapeake Bay Program Reauthorization Act include Chesapeake Bay Watershed Task Force Co-Chairs Rep. Bobby Scott (VA-03), Rep. Rob Wittman (VA-01), and Rep. John Sarbanes (MD-03). Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) are leading the effort in the Senate.

The Chesapeake Bay Program Reauthorization Act would inject $455 million over the next five years into the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program, which coordinates data collection and distributes grants to states for Bay restoration efforts. The vast majority of funding for the Program would go directly toward states within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed – Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New York, plus the District of Columbia – to help them control pollution and manage runoff into the tributaries that feed into the Bay.

Congress has not formally reauthorized the Program since 2005. Although the current administration has recently sought to vastly reduce its funding or eliminate it altogether, Congress has acted in a bipartisan manner to continue funding the Program in annual appropriations bills.

However, to prevent irreparable damage to this national treasure, Congress must act now to demonstrate a long-term commitment to saving the Bay.

“The Chesapeake Bay is among the most important sites for ecological diversity in North America, and we want to keep it clean and thriving for future generations,” Congresswoman Luria said. “I’m proud to lead a bipartisan effort to protect precious economic and environmental resources with a cost-effective, state-focused approach. Congress must stand up for the Bay – one of our greatest natural treasures.”

“The Chesapeake Bay is a national treasure and a centerpiece of the culture and economy of many coastal communities in Virginia, and neighboring states. Through the Chesapeake Bay Program, the overall health of the Bay has improved significantly – we are seeing better water quality, more rockfish, and more blue crabs,” Congressman Wittman said. “However, without continued collaboration among stakeholders and federal support, progress in the Bay is threatened. With today’s action, we are one step closer to ensuring that the Chesapeake Bay remains the economic foundation of our region that will be enjoyed for generations to come.”

“Since its creation in 1983, the Chesapeake Bay Program has played a critical role in Bay restoration. Through good science and comprehensive local, state, and federal cooperation, the Program is a vital tool in restoring the Bay,” Congressman Scott said. “Fully funding the Program is the right thing to do for the Bay, the environment, and our future.”

“Today, we’re making a critical investment in the Chesapeake Bay,” Congressman Sarbanes said. “This bipartisan bill will provide Maryland and other states in the Bay Watershed with the resources they need to restore Bay health and ensure that the Bay remains an economic driver and environmental treasure for generations to come.”

“The health of the Chesapeake Bay depends on all of us in the region – federal, state, local, and private partners – working together toward a common goal – the preservation and restoration of the watershed, which in turn ensures better health for our citizens, economy and local wildlife,” Senator Cardin said. “States rely on the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program to provide federal accountability, enforceability, and resources. Less pollution means more oysters and crabs, healthier farmland, more boats and tourism on the water, and more jobs.”

“The Chesapeake Bay headwaters in West Virginia play an important role in our state’s economy,” Senator Capito said. “I’ve long supported the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program, which so many states rely on, and I am proud to join my colleagues once again in reauthorizing this important program. Doing so will provide critical grant funding to West Virginia, allowing us to continue efforts to make sure the Chesapeake Bay remains an important natural resource for future generations.”

Advocates of the Bay view the legislation as a positive step.