Environmentalists to lobby Congress for boost to Chesapeake Bay cleanup

More than 100 environmentalists plan to fan out across Capitol Hill on Wednesday, lobbying Congress to boost clean water funding for Chesapeake Bay, the nation’s estuary, as the federal government mulls deep cuts.

The Trump administration’s proposed 2021 federal budget would slash funding to the Chesapeake Bay Program, which coordinates multi-state restoration efforts in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

But environmentalists are hopeful that Congress will reject the cuts and increase spending on the clean water program, as it did in the 2020 budget.

“Over two-thirds of the funding that we are fighting for actually goes back out to the states for on-the-ground restoration work,” said Kristin Reilly, director of the Clean Water Coalition, whose members will be meeting with lawmakers Wednesday.

“We’re talking projects that are bringing back clean water, protecting drinking water, creating habitat and reducing flooding,” she said.

Environmentalists say the restoration program has produced results. Rivers in New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and D.C. flow into the bay, and reducing pollution in those rivers is critical to keeping its waters clean.

“Not only are we seeing progress for the bay, but we are seeing major strides in our local rivers and streams across the watershed,” Reilly said.

According to the Clean Water Coalition, Maryland received nearly $14 million in grants from the program, the most out of the states that benefit from it. Virginia received just over $13.2 million, and the District, about $2.8 million.

In late January, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation announced it would sue the Environmental Protection Agency for failing to enforce pollution limits.

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