September 24, 2019

Van Hollen Announces Increase in Bay Funding in Key Senate Bill

Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) announced that he has secured $76 million in funding for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay Program within the Senate Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations FY 2020 funding bill. Following President Trump’s efforts to slash funding for the Bay Program to a mere $7.3 million, Senator Van Hollen fought for this increase in funds – the first since FY 2015 – to support Bay conservation and restoration efforts.

“The Chesapeake Bay Program is our first line of defense in protecting and preserving the Bay. This program is central to our efforts to maintain a healthy Bay and ultimately a healthy Maryland economy. I’m pleased to have secured this investment, despite the President’s continued efforts to rob the program of its funding. I will keep fighting to provide the resources necessary to support the Bay,” said Senator Van Hollen, a member of the Appropriations Committee.

“The Chesapeake Bay Foundation thanks Sen. Van Hollen for his leadership in advocating for and securing additional funds for the Chesapeake Bay Program next year. CBF appreciates the Senator’s steadfast commitment to ensuring a healthy Bay and looks forward to working with him to achieve robust funding for this essential program as the legislation advances in Congress,” said Jason Rano, Federal Executive Director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Kristin Reilly, Director of the Choose Clean Water Coalition, said, “The Chesapeake Bay Program has not received a funding increase in five years and for the past three years, we have been fighting an Administration that has tried to totally eliminate the Chesapeake Bay restoration effort and then slash its funding by 90 percent. This would have eroded all the efforts that are necessary to restore the Bay and clean water to our entire region. Thanks to Senator Van Hollen and the rest of the Chesapeake’s Congressional Delegation we are on the way to finally increasing funding for this critical effort.”

"Senator Van Hollen has been a tremendous leader in fighting to increase Senate funding for the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program," said Ann Swanson, Executive Director of the Chesapeake Bay Commission. "Money buys progress. We now have the ability to target our clean water projects so that they are both geographically strategic and cost-effective. We look forward to working with him as Congress finalizes the FY 2020 budget for critical Bay programs."

In addition to funding for the Chesapeake Bay Program, Senator Van Hollen also secured provisions to support the Bay through:

  • $400,000 for the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail and $3 million for Chesapeake Gateways to support outdoor recreation and conservation.
  • Rejection of President Trump’s cuts to the national Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds, which provide critical updates to water infrastructure.
  • $172.3 million for national Nonpoint Source Grants, which can help Bay States meet nonpoint pollution reductions in nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment.
  • Language in the Agriculture Appropriations bill to ensure that the Chesapeake Bay Watershed continues to be a Critical Conservation Area for the purpose of prioritizing funding from the Department of Agriculture’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program, which Senator Van Hollen has consistently championed.
  • Funding in the Energy and Water Appropriations bill which provides $20,000,000 to the Army Corps of Engineers for multistate ecosystem restoration programs that could be applied to oyster restoration projects in the Bay.
  • Funding in the Energy and Water Appropriations bill which provides support the Chesapeake Bay Oyster Restoration Program and language to encourage the Army Corps to provide sufficient funding in future budget submissions or the Fiscal Year 2020 Work Plan.
  • Funding in the Energy and Water Appropriations bill which provides support the Corps’ Chesapeake Bay Comprehensive Water Resources and Restoration Plan, which is an assessment of the Bay watershed and includes strategies and recommendations for planned and future restoration activities in the Bay.
  • Funding in the Energy and Water Appropriations bill which provides an additional $70 million for the Army Corps Work Plan for project construction, that could be applied to Chesapeake Bay Oyster Restoration. This is an increase of $20 million from FY 2019, and an increase of $70 million from the President’s Budget, which provided zero funds.

The Chesapeake Bay Program funding passed today out of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. The funding is expected to pass out of the full Appropriations Committee on Thursday.

During his time in the Senate, Senator Van Hollen has consistently fought for Bay priorities. In the 2018 Farm Bill, Senator Van Hollen helped secure a $50 million increase in mandatory funding for the Rural Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), which is a voluntary program at the Department of Agriculture to work with farmers to reduce agricultural runoff into watersheds like the Chesapeake Bay.  In 2017, Senator Van Hollen worked with Senator Cardin to convince then-EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to reverse a politically motivated decision to cancel the funding for the Chesapeake Bay Journal. In 2018, Senator Van Hollen worked with Senator Cardin to keep the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program Office and the partners who are co-located with them in the Annapolis area. This is critical for ongoing interagency partnerships and sharing of information about the Chesapeake Bay.