|News, notes, and priorities for the year
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Clean Water Progress on the Hill
As the snow begins to fall around the D.C. metropolitan area, and the new Congress is ushered into session, it is a great time to note the progress we made in the last Congress and look ahead to the next.
And we DID make progress! Important initiatives and funding for the Bay were passed: a new program that helps Bay watershed farmers reduce water pollution, continuation of NOAA's excellent Bay education program for teachers and students, increased support for EPA's Chesapeake Bay Program. And the latest win in December: the Chesapeake Bay Accountability and Recovery Act. Thanks to a bipartisan team from Virginia—Congressman Rob Wittman and Senator Mark Warner—we now have new tools for tracking and assessing the progress of the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint.
The Accountability and Recovery Act will ensure that we have a full-detailed report every year of all the Bay restoration projects, including which projects are planned and completed by each federal agency, and how much is being spent. As Senator Warner stated in a news release, "[t]he Chesapeake Bay is a national treasure that is central to the culture and the economy of many coastal communities in Virginia and neighboring states. In order to be successful in our efforts to improve the health of the Bay, the different agencies and groups who share concerns about the Bay must do a better job of coordinating their efforts." And Congressman Wittman stated that the Chesapeake Bay Accountability and Recovery Act " . . . will bring transparency to Bay restoration and ensure efforts and funds from the various entities involved are being harnessed effectively."
At CBF, we will use this new report to help answer this question: Is the federal government doing its part to help us clean the Bay? Our members of Congress will do the same—and working together we will strive to ensure that agencies have the resources they need to be good partners with states.
Looking forward, CBF's federal team is now focused on funding for Bay priorities. President Obama will release his budget in February and soon after that, Congress will begin its budget and funding process. Thanks to Chairwoman Mikulski of the Senate Appropriations Committee and Congressmen Moran and Wolf, the Bay cleanup received strong funding for 2015. CBF President Will Baker recently commended them for this support: "[t]he federal government plays a crucial role in restoring the Chesapeake Bay. Thanks to the bipartisan work of the Bay delegation, this budget bill helps Bay states reach their clean water goals. These budget investments will sustain the region's economy as well as its environment."
We now know, thanks to the diligent work of CBF scientists, that to meet the Blueprint targets in 2017 and final goals in 2025, both the state and federal governments must accelerate pollution reductions. On the Hill, we will work with policymakers to make sure they have the tools and resources they need to meet these goals.