Tuesday, February 15, 2011

CBF Statement On U.S. House, President Obama Budget Proposals

Chesapeake Bay Foundation President William C. Baker issued this statement concerning the impact of the House and Obama Administration proposed budgets on clean water in the Chesapeake Bay region:
“The House Appropriations Committee and the Obama Administration have released starkly different budget proposals regarding clean water in the Chesapeake Bay region. The House proposal would make devastating cuts to clean water programs, while the Administration’s budget honors the federal commitment to achieve pollution reduction goals, and is an extraordinary commitment in these tough budget times. CBF urges the Senate to reject the House cuts, support funding the President’s budget, and work to restore funding the State Revolving Fund, one of the few tools that helps cities and towns reduce pollution.”
Six weeks ago, the Environmental Protection Agency, six states, and the District of Columbia ushered in a new era of cooperation and ended years of stalling when they released detailed plans to reduce Chesapeake Bay pollution to restore water quality over the next 15 years. Meeting those science-based and legally-required goals is going to require significant and sometimes costly effort from citizens, towns, cities, and states.
This year’s Chesapeake Bay Foundation State of the Bay report suggests that pollution-cutting measures that have been taken in past years are beginning to show results. On a scale of 100, the Bay’s overall score jumped from three points to 31 on a theoretical scale of zero to 100. This year’s gains were the largest in the history of our report. The detailed plans released at the end of 2010 have the potential to achieve much more progress towards the goal of a saved Bay if everyone does his part.
Citizens and state and local governments are stepping up to do their part; Congress must as well. Whether delivered to cities and towns, rural areas, or individual landowners and farmers, the federal government’s assistance is critical to meeting the ambitious pollution reduction goals.
The House Appropriations Committee envisions cuts for the remainder of fiscal year 2011 that would significantly set back those efforts. A 20% cutback in the current Chesapeake Bay Program budget, a 67% cut to the current Clean Water State Revolving Fund that assists cities and towns in reducing pollution, a 50% cut for Blue Plains (the Chesapeake’s largest wastewater treatment facility), an 11% cut in technical conservation assistance to farmers, and many other reductions take us in the wrong direction. Furthermore, they place additional burdens on cities and towns and on individual rate-payers to fund pollution reduction programs.
On the other hand, President Obama’s fiscal year 2012 budget, which was released today, attempts to uphold the President’s commitment to clean water in a budget cutting environment. The centerpiece of the restoration efforts – the Chesapeake Bay Program – is increased 35% over current levels, while other programs also show increases or modest decreases.
Poll after poll shows that the public is concerned about creating jobs and keeping the economy strong. Efforts to restore clean water creates jobs for engineers, construction workers, agricultural technical assistance providers, farmers, and many others, and are fundamental to the long-term health of this region.
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