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Bush Administration to Slash Bay Cleanup Funding

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Guest BayWatcher

“It’s hard to imagine a budget more harmful to the Chesapeake Bay and its health,” said Kim Coble, CBF Maryland Executive Director. “This is unacceptable, and takes us not one or two, but 10 steps backward.”


We request immediately on the Governor, Maryland congressional leaders and State legislators to express their outrage and call for more funding for the Bay.


The budget proposes to cut by 22 percent the national Clean Water Revolving Loan Fund, which is used to upgrade sewage treatment plants throughout the Bay region. This will slow efforts to upgrade sewage treatment plants; federal funding is a key element for the success of the Bay Restoration Fund, established by Gov. Robert Ehrlich and the legislature in 2004, to reduce nitrogen pollution to waterways by paying for wastewater treatment plant upgrades.


The budget also calls for slashing the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) oyster restoration funding by almost 86 percent. Oysters serve as natural water filters to help keep the Bay clean, and are key to its revitalization, both economically and environmentally. The Bay oyster population is at only 2 percent of historic levels.


“It’s becoming abundantly clear that oyster restoration will only be successful if we scale it up dramatically, not reduce it,” said CBF Senior Fisheries Scientist Bill Goldsborough. “Restoration efforts to date have shown success on smaller levels in rivers, and emphasizes the need to fund oyster restoration on a larger scale.”


The federal budget also proposes to eliminate funding for:

EPA’s small watershed grants and loans. By doing so, the budget cuts the legs off of hands-on efforts to restore stream systems.

Chesapeake Bay Watershed Education and Training Program (B-WET). The NOAA program funded grants to schools and nonprofits to promote environmental education, in order to meet the Chesapeake 2000 commitments to environmental education.

The National Park Service’s Chesapeake Gateways and Watertrails program. The Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network connects people with the Bay and its rivers through 150 parks, wildlife refuges, museums, sailing ships, historic communities, trails, and more. It links natural, cultural, historical, and recreational sites throughout the Bay region.

Chesapeake Bay land preservation funds. This comes on the heels of Gov. Robert Ehrlich’s announcement to restore full funding for statewide land preservation.


CBF believes the federal budget proposal speaks to the lack of priority and lack of commitment the Bush administration has to the protection and restoration of the Bay.


The Chesapeake Bay is a national treasure, the same as the Everglades which is getting 10 times what the Bay is receiving in funding and the Great Lakes, which is receiving more than twice the funding of the Bay. There is no economic or environmental reason the Bay shouldn’t get comparable funding.


“The Bay states have made commitments to reduce nitrogen pollution by 2010. We’re already falling far short of that goal,” Coble said. “This budget takes us in the opposite direction.”

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