The 2018 Federal Budget , as proposed, would eliminate federal funding for the program that coordinates Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts, and environmental groups warned the cut would threaten decades of progress.
It significantly reduces funding for the Environmental Protection Agency. As part of those cuts, it eliminates money that currently goes to the Chesapeake Bay Program.
The program, formed in 1983, received $73 million in federal funds last year, most of which was doled out in grants to states, local governments and community groups for cleanup efforts in the nation's largest estuary. It also coordinates and monitors the efforts of the six Bay watershed states and the District of Columbia in meeting pollution reduction goals.
The Chesapeake Bay watershed — an economic driver that supports fishing, farming, shipping and tourism — spans 64,000 square miles (165,760 square kilometers) in parts of Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. After the EPA set bay pollution limits in 2010, the states and D.C. agreed to a "clean water blueprint," a set of plans for how to meet those limits by 2025.
In the past, Chesapeake Bay Program grants have funded projects to restore oyster reefs, protect oyster beds, help reduce polluted runoff, support water quality monitoring and create habitat for animals.
Proposed cuts will return the responsibility for funding "local environmental efforts" to state and local entities, allowing EPA "to focus on its highest national priorities."
Congress will have the final say on the budget, and the Chesapeake Bay Program has support from lawmakers in both parties. A bipartisan group of 17 members of bay states' congressional delegations sent a letter to Trump last month asking him to keep program funding at the same $73 million level.
Does it really make a difference, or matter, whether water quality improvements and protections are funding locally, by states, or the federal government? The money all comes from the same source--you and me.