Senate Allocates Federal Funding for Chesapeake Bay and Environmental Projects - Southern Maryland Headline News

Senate Allocates Federal Funding for Chesapeake Bay and Environmental Projects

Nearly $30M allocated for Bay-related projects in Senate version of the Commerce, Justice, Science 2007 spending bill. Passes Appropriations Committee, still needs to go to floor for a vote.

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senators Barbara A. Mikulski and Paul S. Sarbanes (both D-Md.) announced that several key Chesapeake Bay and environmental projects are included in the Senate version of the Commerce, Justice, Science 2007 spending bill, which passed the Senate Appropriations Committee today.

"The Chesapeake Bay is part of who we are as Marylanders - our heritage and our culture," said Senator Mikulski. "Maryland's communities want to do the right thing by the Bay, but they can't do it on their own. That's why I have worked so hard to put money in the federal checkbook that creates jobs, builds communities and takes care of our environment."

"With Senator Mikulski at the helm of this important Appropriations Subcommittee, we have been able to provide significant resources for our on-going efforts to restore the waters of the Chesapeake Bay, its habitat, and the fish and shellfish that are a vital part of the Bay and Maryland's economic livelihood," added Senator Sarbanes.

The bill includes:

— $5 million for the Blue Crab Advanced Research Consortium to continue efforts to produce and release juvenile blue crabs into the environment.

— $4.5 million for the Oxford Cooperative Laboratory to research blue crab health, monitor invasive species, study finfish pathology, and cooperate with Chesapeake Bay academic institutions to develop environmental indicators of Bay health.

— $4 million for native oyster restoration in Maryland waters. These funds are necessary to restore oyster habitat reefs and plant disease-free oysters.

— $3.5 million for the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) program. This program educates and involves students in the stewardship of Bay resources.

— $3.5 million for the Chesapeake Bay Studies program. This program supports fish and crab research and monitoring, the Coastal Prediction Center, submerged aquatic vegetation research grants, living resource response to toxic contamination, ecosystem modeling and community watershed restoration grants.

— $3 million for the Alliance for Coastal Technologies to test development and application of new technologies that observe the coastal environment.

— $2 million for Bay oyster restoration by Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS). These funds will also contribute to restoring disease-free oyster bars throughout Chesapeake waters.

— $1.8 million for local communities to purchase lands for conservation vital to protect Maryland's Chesapeake Bay watershed.

— $750,000 to establish a Chesapeake Leadership Institute to promote Bay stewardship.

— $700,000 to monitor and assess the Bay's bluefish, menhaden and striped bass populations.

— $150,000 for the Anacostia Watershed Society for classroom education, teacher training and restoration of the Anacostia River, which flows into the Bay.

In the next step of the appropriations process, the bill will move to the Senate floor for a vote, which has not yet been scheduled. Following the Senate vote, the House and Senate will meet in Conference Committee to work out the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill. Both Houses of Congress will vote on the conference bill. Once passed by the House and Senate, the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill will go to the President for his signature.

Senator Mikulski is a member of the Appropriations Committee and the senior Democrat on the Commerce, Justice, Science Subcommittee. Senator Sarbanes is the senior Democrat on the Banking Committee.

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