Van Hollen, Warner Introduce Bicameral, Bipartisan Bill to Assist Chesapeake Bay Restoration Efforts
The Chesapeake Bay SEEE Act would help protect the Bay Watershed, improve ecosystem management and increase environmental stewardship opportunities
U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) along with Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) today introduced the Chesapeake Bay Science, Education and Ecosystem Enhancement (SEEE) Act, which aims to restore the health of the Bay Watershed, strengthen fisheries management, and expand environmental education programs for residents across the Bay Watershed. Companion legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by Reps. John Sarbanes (D-Md.), Bobby Scott (D-Va.) and Rob Wittman (R-Va.).
“A clean Chesapeake Bay is essential to the health of Maryland’s environment and success of our Bay economy,” said Sen. Van Hollen. “This legislation will help deliver on our commitment to preserve and protect the Bay through crucial partners like the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office and environmental educational programs. I am proud to support this bill and will continue working in Congress to provide the resources necessary to promote a clean and healthy Chesapeake Bay.”
“The Chesapeake Bay is not only an important recreational and ecological treasure, it’s also a vital economic engine for Virginia,” said Sen. Warner. “I am proud to introduce this legislation that will support the mission of NOAA’s Chesapeake Bay office to improve the health of the Bay and ensure its sustainable use for generations to come.”
“The prosperity of the Commonwealth and the health of the Chesapeake Bay are inextricable,” said Sen. Kaine. “This bill will support the vital work of preserving our ecosystems, maintaining healthy waterways, and understanding climate challenges so Virginia can continue to reap the benefits the Bay provides.”
“We are at a critical moment for Chesapeake Bay restoration, facing harmful climate change impacts such as rising sea levels, temperatures, and extreme rain events,” said Sen. Cardin. “NOAA's science helps ensure the investments we make will go the furthest to benefit the watershed through improved livelihoods, public health, water quality, and resilience—now and in the future.”
“I am proud to cosponsor this bipartisan, bicameral legislation to support restoring the health of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, an incredible wildlife area that includes multiple counties in West Virginia. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle as we work to reauthorize the NOAA Chesapeake Bay office and the programs they support to benefit the habitats in our state and across the Chesapeake Bay region,” said Sen. Manchin.
Specifically, the Chesapeake Bay SEEE Act would:
- Reauthorize the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office (CBO), a key partner of the Bay Program and leader of the Program’s fisheries, environmental literacy, climate resiliency, and habitat work. The bill would allow NOAA CBO to collaborate with universities, nonprofits, and other Bay stakeholders to promote integrated coastal observations – such as monitoring and observing restoration activities, collecting and analyzing marine resources data – and information sharing to assist policymakers, resource managers, and the public.
- Direct NOAA to support coordinated management, protection, characterization, and restoration of Bay habitats and living resources, as well as the Interpretive Buoy System along the Capital John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail.
- Authorize the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) program, which awards educational grants related to Bay restoration.
- Reauthorize NOAA CBO through 2025, funding it at $12 million in FY22, $20.7 million in FY23, $22.57 million in FY24, and $24.627 million in FY25.
The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the U.S. More than 150,000 streams and rivers thread through the Chesapeake’s 64,000-square-mile watershed, which is home to 18 million people across Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.
A copy of the bill text can be found here.
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