February 11, 2020

Van Hollen Vows to Once Again Fight Back Against President’s Proposed Cuts to Bay Funding

U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) is vowing to once again fight back against President Trump’s proposed budget cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Chesapeake Bay Program. As in previous years, the President’s Budget proposal includes drastic cuts to the Bay program, funding it at only $7.3 million, which is less than a tenth of what the program received last year.

“A clean Chesapeake Bay is crucial to the health and success of Maryland’s Bay economy. President Trump’s repeated attempts to slash funding for the Chesapeake Bay Program would seriously harm ongoing restoration efforts. Since President Trump took office, we have worked on a bipartisan basis to prevent these damaging cuts – and last year we were successful in securing an even larger investment in the Bay Program. As in years past, I will fight tooth and nail against this Administration’s attempts to undermine Bay cleanup, so we can preserve and protect this vital treasure for years to come,” said Senator Van Hollen.

In January 2017, this Administration began its attacks on the Chesapeake Bay Program with the President zeroing out the Bay Program in his first budget proposal. In his roles on both the Appropriations and Environment and Public Works Committees, Senator Van Hollen was determined to tackle this issue head-on. That year, he worked to restore Bay funding in the omnibus bill to $73 million. The same challenge presented itself in the President’s next proposal which cut the Bay Program by 90 percent. Senator Van Hollen again worked with Appropriators on both sides of the aisle to get the full funding into the final omnibus. In the omnibus bill passed in December, Senator Van Hollen fought to include $85 million in funding for the Bay Program – the highest dollar amount the Program has received in its history.

In addition to his efforts to maintain and increase funding for the Chesapeake Bay through the Appropriations Committee and the EPA Bay Program, Senator Van Hollen has also worked to introduce provisions to increase other investments in the Bay. Working with Senator Capito and the area delegation as part of the 2018 Farm Bill, he was able to include his bipartisan plan to significantly increase the funding available to the Bay under the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), the successor to Van Hollen’s 2008 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative. More recently, Senator Van Hollen teamed up with Senator Capito to introduce the Chesapeake WILD Act, which was passed earlier this year by the Senate as a part of the America’s Conservation Enhancement Act.

The Senator has also pushed back against alarming comments attributed to the Bay Program Director and the EPA regarding the enforcement of TMDL pollution reduction targets. The Senator recently addressed this issue in an EPW hearing, and led a letter with 19 of his colleagues urging the EPA to immediately clarify their position. The Senator will continue to push back on this concerning development using all available tools – including possible legal action.

In light of these comments and proposed budget cuts, Senator Van Hollen will keep fighting back against this Administration’s efforts to undermine Chesapeake Bay Cleanup.

The President’s proposed budget includes the following cuts that would impact the Chesapeake Bay:

·         $7.3 million for the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program (funded last year at $85 million)

·         No funding for the USGS Bay Program (funded last year at $5.7 million)

·         No funding for the National Park Service Chesapeake Gateways Program (funded last year at $3 million)