Thursday, May 13, 2021

Gov. Wolf Joins Chesapeake Bay Watershed Governors, Officials Urging Congress To Support ‘Billion For The Bay Initiative' To Jumpstart Final Restoration Efforts

On May 13, the Governors of each of the states in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, the Mayor of Washington, D.C. and the Chair of the Chesapeake Bay Commission
wrote to the leaders of Congress asking them to support a new Billion For The Bay Initiative to jumpstart the final phase of Bay restoration efforts.

The letter was signed by Gov. Tom Wolf, Gov. John Carney (DE), Gov. Larry Hogan (MD), Gov. Andres Cuomo (NY), Gov. Ralph S. Northam (VA), Gov. Jim Justice (WV), Mayor Muriel Bowser of the District of Columbia and David L. Bulova, Chair, Chesapeake Bay Commission.

"We write today to request your support for a bold plan to stimulate state and local economies in the Mid-Atlantic region and restore America’s largest estuary – the Chesapeake Bay. 

"Our proposal is the Billion for the Bay Initiative: a significant and much needed infusion of new funds that will jumpstart the final phase of Bay restoration and put people to work building clean water infrastructure, including green infrastructure that will reduce stormwater and agricultural water pollution, the restoration of natural landscapes, and helping us adapt to the impacts of climate change.

"We face a 2025 deadline under the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) to meet pollution reduction goals that will ensure clean water in the Bay and its tributaries across six states and the District of Columbia. 

“While we are making great progress and appreciate recent increases in funding for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay Program, the lion’s share of fiscal responsibilities for these efforts falls on our jurisdictions. 

“As you know, state and local government budgets have been hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic, making it much more difficult to afford wastewater treatment plant upgrades, enhanced stormwater management systems, stream, forest, and wetlands restoration, and agricultural best management practices necessary to restore the Bay. 

“Many individuals, including farmers and ratepayers who must share in the cost of these upgrades, are also struggling.

"The specific benefits of the Billion for the Bay Initiative are two-fold:

1. Enhance and maintain efforts to meet the 2025 deadline for Bay cleanup: Each of the Bay states and the District of Columbia have developed a jurisdiction specific Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) identifying the most strategic practices and geographic regions for investment. 

In addition, our unique partnership has prepared a separate WIP to tackle pollution flowing over the Conowingo Dam. Distribution of the Billion for the Bay dollars should reflect our established priorities and can be distributed through existing programs within the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Agriculture, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation that have proven track records of success. 

“This initiative would leverage significant state and local funding and energize private capital through conservation financing to support cost-effective, long-term environmental solutions.

2. Create jobs and grow economic activity: Every million dollars invested in clean water infrastructure can create more than 16 jobs, so the Billion for the Bay Initiative will also add tens of thousands of job opportunities to help spur our economic recovery. 

Further, a clean Bay will generate more than $22 billion dollars each year in new economic value from improved commercial and recreational fishing, reduced drinking water treatment costs, resilience to climate change, and improved property values and quality of life in the region.

“As you consider infrastructure and climate-related funding, we ask that you include the Billion for the Bay Initiative. 

“This is an opportunity to achieve the long-elusive goal of restoring the Chesapeake Bay, while creating significant new job opportunities, building resilience to climate change, and protecting landscapes and waterways across multiple states.

“We look forward to additional conversations with you and your colleagues from the region on how to design and implement this important program for maximum success.”

Click Here for a copy of the letter.


Chesapeake Bay Foundation President William Baker issued this statement in reaction to the letter--

“The future of the Chesapeake Bay is now in jeopardy. Scientific recommendations to save it must be accelerated; if not, the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint will fail. The watershed states and their federal partners must increase investments to meet the 2025 goal. 

“This is especially critical for Pennsylvania and New York, which supply 50 percent of the Bay’s fresh water, and the Bay’s pollution.

“To finish the job, EPA leadership must embrace the Clean Water Act’s mandates and hold the states accountable. 

Pennsylvania’s current plan only achieves 75 percent of its nitrogen pollution reduction goal and has a self-identified shortfall of more than $300 million annually. 

“The vast majority of the pollution reduction needed must come from Pennsylvania. The majority of this new funding must be directed toward the Commonwealth.

“The Clean Water Blueprint is our last, best hope for clean water across the region. For our children and grandchildren, we must demand success.”

For more on Chesapeake Bay-related issues in Pennsylvania, visit the Chesapeake Bay Foundation-PA webpage.  Click Here to sign up for Pennsylvania updates (bottom of left column).  Click Here to support their work.

Also visit the Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership to learn how you can help clean water grow on trees.

CBF has over 275,000 members in Bay Watershed.

[PA Chesapeake Bay Plan

[For more information on Pennsylvania’s plan, visit DEP’s Chesapeake Bay Office webpage.

[How Clean Is Your Stream?

[DEP’s Interactive Report Viewer allows you to zoom in on your own stream or watershed to find out how clean your stream is or if it has impaired water quality using the latest information in the draft 2020 Water Quality Report.]


Bay Journal: Governors Say A ‘Billion For The Bay’ Will Help Cleanup The Chesapeake

Related Articles:

-- PA Farm Bureau Calls On Senate, House To Pass And Fund Legislation To Support On-Farm Conservation Efforts To Improve Water Quality

-- Bay Journal: Chesapeake Bay Restoration Stumbles In Race To Finish Line; Promised Outcomes Lagging Badly Or In Limbo

-- PA Senate Passes Bill To Control Overuse Of Fertilizer On Turf 

-- Bay Journal Forum: New Wave Of Streamside Forest Plantings Needed Now

-- Lebanon Valley Conservancy Volunteers Plant 1,000 Trees, Native Plant Gardens, Award College Scholarship

-- Student Project Brings Trees And Music To Water Quality Cleanup Efforts In Lancaster County; June 5 ‘The Big Do’ Celebration

-- Conservation Districts: Need Technical Assistance With Watershed Monitoring?  Check Out C-SAW

-- Public Invited To Virtual Cumberland County Water Resources Forum May 19

[Posted: May 13, 2021]  PA Environment Digest

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