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Sarbanes Unveils Bill to Shore Up Funding for Chesapeake Bay Cleanup

U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes is planning to introduce legislation Wednesday that would invest nearly $500 million in Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts over the next five years.

The Maryland Democrat, whose 3rd District includes Chesapeake Bay coastline, is unveiling the legislation with Virginia Reps. Bobby Scott (D), Elaine Luria (D) and Rob Wittman (R).

“Today, we’re making a critical investment in the Chesapeake Bay,” Sarbanes said in a statement. “This bipartisan bill will provide Maryland and other states in the Bay Watershed with the resources they need to restore Bay health and ensure that the Bay remains an economic driver and environmental treasure for generations to come.”

The bill would spend $455 million over the next five years — more than $90 million each year — to fund the Chesapeake Bay Program in Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York. The program is aimed at reducing nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment pollution across the watershed.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Choose Clean Water Coalition have endorsed the bill, according to Sarbanes’ office.

The program dates back to 1983, when the federal government began to partner with coastal states and the District of Columbia to reduce pollution. A 2014 agreement set limits on the nutrients allowed to enter the bay and outlines steps for each state to meet its cleanup goals by 2025.

President Trump has attempted to ax funding for the program. His fiscal 2019 budget proposal would have cut annual funding from $72.5 million to $7.3 million, the Daily Press reported.

Those attempts prompted an outcry from lawmakers in the region who credit the program for cleaning up the bay in recent decades.

 Robin Bravender is Washington bureau chief for States Newsroom.

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Sarbanes Unveils Bill to Shore Up Funding for Chesapeake Bay Cleanup