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Md. Lawmakers Meet With EPA Officials on Chesapeake Bay Funding

Maryland lawmakers met with Environmental Protection Agency officials on Capitol Hill Tuesday to discuss the status of funding for the Chesapeake Bay.

U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D) said the meeting comes at a critical time, as the EPA is reviewing reports of the implementation plans for each of the states.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D) said the delegation is working hard to increase funding for the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program, a regional partnership that includes Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, D.C. and the Chesapeake Bay Commission.

In September, a Senate subcommittee increased funding for the program from $73 million to $76 million in 2020. President Trump’s administration had proposed to cut the program’s funding by 90%, reducing it to $7.3 million.

“Sen. Cardin and I pushed back very hard, and we were able to get an increase in the Senate of $3 million, and the House increased it by even more,” Van Hollen said.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation Executive Director Jason Rano said in a statement that annual increases, such as the boost in funding, “are essential” to meeting the 2025 deadline to restore the health of the bay.

“We need to make this part of the budget that passes this year,” Van Hollen said.

One of the issues Cardin raised during the meeting was Pennsylvania’s contribution to the reduction of pollutants in the bay. Cardin said the questions were to ensure Pennsylvania will be held accountable to do its share.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, which tracks pollution in the bay, released in May a critical report of Pennsylvania’s efforts to reduce pollution, calling it “woefully inadequate,” The Associated Press reported.

Cardin said they got a detailed report on what the EPA is doing with regard to the Conowingo Dam on the Susquehanna River in Maryland and potential use of the sediment the dam traps.

During storms, the dam releases sediments into the bay, and there was discussion on whether to hold Pennsylvania and Exelon Corp. — which owns the dam — accountable, Cardin said.

“The Chesapeake Bay program depends on the stakeholders doing their share,” Cardin said.

U.S. Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D), the House majority leader, said the discussion is another exclamation point on what needs to get done.

“This is an extraordinary resource of our state, an extraordinary resource of the nation,” Hoyer said.

Hoyer said. “We have a responsibility, federal, state  and local, to ensure the health and welfare of the Chesapeake Bay.”

As part of Maryland Matters’ content sharing agreement with WTOP, we feature this article from Abigail Constantino. Click here for the WTOP News website.

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Md. Lawmakers Meet With EPA Officials on Chesapeake Bay Funding