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

Community and faith leaders shed light on Georgians’ energy burden

Nobody likes a sky-high electric bill. But in Georgia, where total monthly energy costs are the third highest nationwide, many families are consi...

Public Service Commission delivers major clean energy wins in Georgia

Georgia’s electric grid is getting a lot more solar following today’s final vote by the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) on Georgia Power’...

Lower Cape Fear River no longer to be classified as ‘swamp waters’

Fifteen miles of North Carolina’s lower Cape Fear River will no longer be classified as “swamp waters,” thanks to a successful petition by enviro...

Support floods in to bolster ruling invalidating 2 N.C. constitutional amendments

On Friday, the North Carolina NAACP, represented by SELC and Forward Justice, urged the North Carolina Court of Appeals to uphold the Wake County...

Carolinas object to seismic blasting

State agencies in North and South Carolina have found that seismic blasting proposed for the Atlantic Ocean is not in line with the states’ coast...

Cross-sector collaboration: Groups tackle climate change through transportation reform

As the leading source of greenhouse gas emissions nationwide—and a close second in North Carolina—transportation has a vital role to play in redu...

More Stories