Federal support essential to regional Chesapeake Bay restoration

Since a federal-state partnership took over restoration of the Chesapeake Bay, there have been improvements in many key indicators, including crab populations and water clarity. (© iStock)

Up until now, the Environmental Protection Agency has played a critical role in restoring water quality in the Chesapeake Bay. Working with the six states in the bay watershed, the agency is a key player in the joint commitment to a science-based pollution reduction plan, known as the Clean Water Blueprint. Whether that program, which has enjoyed bipartisan support for years, will continue is now in question.

“The Blueprint is our best chance to, at long last, clean up the Bay and Bay watershed, which provide drinking water, food, jobs, and a beloved destination for millions of people,” said SELC attorney Kristin Davis. “And EPA is at the center of it all—coordinating science, research, and grants to help implement the Blueprint.”

The White House’s recently released federal budget proposal zeroes out the EPA’s share of this bay restoration work, $73 million. Those funds support grants to state and local government agencies and others for their cleanup work. It also supports better understanding of bay through study and research in the watershed.

And it’s working. Native aquatic wildlife like crabs and oysters are on the rebound. Underwater grasses are at their highest levels in decades, as is water clarity. With federal and state cooperation, and the hard work of citizens, businesses, farmers, and localities, the Blueprint restoration efforts are succeeding. Eliminating the Environmental Protection Agency’s Bay funding would cripple these efforts, carelessly wasting our opportunity to clean up the Bay.

The Trump Administration has said from its first day that it wants to strip longstanding federal environmental protections and turn them over to the states. Yet the recent trajectory of Southeastern states’ budgets and staffing show that the states are not positioned to take on these critical roles. Consider Virginia’s environmental budget, which dropped 54 percent from 2007 to 2017. That trend doesn’t bode well for Virginia’s ability to pick up the tab for pending Chesapeake Bay restoration work.

More News

Agreement promises investigation of industrial pollution in North Carolina river

In the last week, on behalf of the Haw River Assembly, SELC finalized a memorandum of agreement with the City of Burlington, North Carolina, in w...

Clean water rollbacks enable destruction of 400 acres of wetlands near Okefenokee

One impact of the Trump administration’s cutting of protections under the Clean Water Act is a massive mine’s plans to destroy nearly 400 acres o...

The dirty truth about biogas production and how to take action in NC

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality is taking public comments on a draft air quality permit for the first project that relies...

Harvest of horseshoe crabs for blood challenged at SC wildlife refuge

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is failing to follow the law and its obligation to protect one of South Carolina’s most pristine coastal sanct...

South Carolina governor signs Disaster Relief and Resilience Act

Signed into law by South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster this week, the programs in the Disaster Relief and Resilience Act are a major step towa...

Court approves agreement for 99% reduction of Chemours’ chemical water pollution

A state court just approved an agreement detailing the next steps under a consent order SELC negotiated to stop Chemours from discharging 99 perc...

More Stories