Federal funding for Chesapeake Bay lives on in newest spending bill

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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The newest spending bill passed by Congress on Friday continues federal funding for the Chesapeake Bay.

According to the Associated Press, President Donald Trump has gotten nowhere in his push to kill federal support for cleaning up some of the nation’s most prized waterways, as the U.S. House decided Thursday to keep funding at current levels — and in some cases, boost it.

The $1.3 trillion spending package for 2019 includes nearly $448 million for Environmental Protection Agency programs benefiting regional waters degraded by pollution, over-development and exotic species invasions. That’s an increase from $436 million in this year’s budget.

The bill provides $73 million in funding for the Chesapeake Bay Program. In addition, the bill would extend authorization for the Chesapeake Bay Initiative until 2019 and allocates over $2 million for the Chesapeake Gateways and Watertrails Network.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation President William C. Baker issued the following statement concerning the spending bill.

The legislation fully funds the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program, NOAA’s Bay Watershed Education and Training program (funding environmental education), as well as speaking to the importance of continuing United States Geological Survey efforts in support of bay restoration.

For the first time in 10 years, agricultural conservation funding saw no cuts.

Will Baker, the president of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, sent 10 On Your Side this statement on the spending bill:

“This is a great day for the Chesapeake Bay. Once again, the Chesapeake attracts strong bipartisan support — a demonstration that clean water is important to all of us! Now it is up to Congress to pass the final budget and the president to sign it. The bay is making progress and our legislators know how important it is to keep doing what works, especially when it is grounded in science. The Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint is a federal/state partnership. It is helping to save the Bay! We see measurable progress in reducing pollution, bringing back crabs, oysters and fish, and stimulating the economy! The funding provided in this bill will build on that success. Make no mistake though, the recovery is still fragile – the Bay is far from fully saved! Now is the time to do more, not less. We can ensure clean water for our children and grandchildren.”

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation does not rely on federal funding but donations. However, foundation workers tell 10 On Your Side they support what supports the bay.

10 On Your Side asked Senator Tim Kaine (D) of Virginia about the spending bill as it relates to the Chesapeake Bay. Kaine said he reached out to the Great Lake states after the administration proposed to axe money there, too.

“So we joined up with Dems and Reps representing Great Lakes states and that enabled us to get critical mass to save the Chesapeake Bay program and to save the Great Lakes programs and we’ve had to now do this for years in a row.”

He says that hopes it persuades the administration that they take this very seriously.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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