|The Beginning of a New Commitment
CBF's Federal Policy Director Alix Murdoch. Photo by Marissa Rauch.
At CBF, we believe in new beginnings. For more than a year, we have been sounding the alarm in Washington that the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint was in peril because Pennsylvania was far behind in its work to reduce pollution flowing into its rivers and streams and the Bay. But on October 4, something changed. Dramatically.
To refresh: In early 2015, when it was clear Pennsylvania was falling behind in its work with farmers, CBF brought that message to Washington. By May, Senators Cardin and Casey took action to help PA farmers. They urged USDA to "enhance the resources it is allocating to the Susquehanna River Basin, as well as to take greater responsibility and demonstrate on the ground leadership as a federal partner to the Chesapeake Bay Program." But USDA was unable to do more.
By early 2016, the situation got worse: Pennsylvania was so far behind that it would miss the nitrogen pollution-reduction goals for the critical 2017 Mid-Point Assessment of the Blueprint. Again, CBF brought that message to Washington. We worked with the White House; we worked with our champions in the Senate and the House; and we worked with USDA and EPA. We said: It's not about the money; it's about results. And we urged greater investment in the most strategic, cost-effective opportunities for reducing pollution in Pennsylvania and downstream.
And then, on October 4, federal and state partners finally announced what we believe is a new beginning for Pennsylvania and the Blueprint: an investment of more than $28 million dollars to enhance and accelerate farmers’ pollution-reduction efforts in Pennsylvania.
The new federal and state funding to come from EPA, USDA, and Pennsylvania will allow more farmers in the Commonwealth to take critical steps like planting streamside buffers and cover crops, actions that will make a big difference for Pennsylvania waters and the Chesapeake Bay. Strategically investing in the practices, places, and people that will provide the biggest return is the best way to get the Blueprint back on track.
Today, the state of the Blueprint—the historic federal and state collaboration is strong. Senators Cardin and Casey have earned our greatest respect and gratitude for their leadership, without which this day might not have come. October 4 truly marks the beginning of a new commitment to meeting our clean water goals. Working together, we can and will achieve productive farms, and clean, healthy waters for the benefit of all.
Federal Policy Director
Chesapeake Bay Foundation