Van Hollen Announces Full Funding for the Chesapeake Bay Program in Interior, Environment Appropriations Bill
Today U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen, member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced the inclusion of several Maryland priorities within the Chairman's Mark of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bill. The legislation invests in environmental protection and conservation and includes numerous programs vital to the Chesapeake Bay. Most notably, Senator Van Hollen worked to secure full funding of $73 million for the Chesapeake Bay Program, which was cut by President Trump's proposed budget and the House of Representatives' Interior, Environment appropriations legislation.
"The Chesapeake Bay is a national and natural treasure, and its health is essential to a healthy Maryland economy. This funding is crucial to our continued restoration efforts, and will ensure that the Bay is able to support local jobs and recreation for years to come," said Senator Van Hollen. "While I am disappointed by cuts to other critical environmental programs and unnecessary policy riders in Senator Cochran's proposal, I am glad it included these essential funds. As this legislation moves through the Appropriations Committee process, I will continue to fight for Maryland's priorities and work with my colleagues to improve this bill."
This funding will allow continued efforts to clean up the Bay, which are vital to Maryland's wildlife and economy. Bay restoration not only supports Maryland's environment but also the livelihoods of our watermen and Marylanders in the tourism and boating industries. The Chesapeake Bay Program partners with local communities across Maryland to achieve cleanup and environmental goals. Senator Van Hollen also worked to include language to maintain and fully-staff the Chesapeake Bay Program Office (CBPO) in Annapolis, Maryland - ensuring continuity in the program and its partnerships when the existing CBPO lease expires in 2019. This office is crucial to efforts to maintain and restore the Bay's health, and it houses 30 full-time CBPO staff in addition to over 75 staff members from other federal agencies.
Additionally, with support from Senator Van Hollen and Senator Cardin, the bill extends authorization of the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Program, which helps provide greater access to the Chesapeake Bay.
Senator Van Hollen also recently introduced the bipartisan Chesapeake Bay Farm Bill Enhancements Act, which would triple the amount of mandatory funding available to the Bay through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCCP) and provide more opportunities for effective conservation efforts.
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