Historic Federal Investment Would Reduce Pollution and Protect Agricultural Economy
WASHINGTON - Legislation was introduced on Wednesday in the U.S. Senate that would provide a historic level of new federal funding to Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts, and reduce tens of millions of pounds of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment pollution annually. The legislation, introduced by Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), and co-sponsored by Senators Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), John Warner (R-VA), Jim Webb (D-VA), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Joseph R. Biden (D-DE), and Thomas R. Carper (D-DE), would provide an additional $200 million or more in conservation funding to the region's farmers.
"The leadership of these seven Senators, along with 21 of their colleagues in the House, is critical if we are to have the programs and funding in place by 2010 to achieve the goal of removing our rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay from the nation's 'dirty waters' list," said CBF President William C. Baker. "This proposal is a demonstration of leadership that, when combined with state and local dollars, would fully implement the agricultural conservation practices required in the restoration roadmap that Bay scientists have developed."
The Chesapeake's Healthy and Environmentally Sound Stewardship of Energy and Agriculture Act of 2007, or CHESSEA Act, will direct additional Farm Bill funding toward water quality improvement and farm viability in watersheds like the Chesapeake - with recognized nutrient pollution and water quality degradation, agreed-upon multi-state commitments to address that pollution, and identified restoration plans and goals.
"The Chesapeake Bay is not only Maryland's greatest natural resource, it's part of who we are as Marylanders - our heritage and our culture. Maryland communities and farmers want to do right by the Bay, but they can't do it on their own," said Senator Barbara A. Mikulski. "That's why I'm proud to fight for the Chesapeake's Healthy and Environmentally Sound Stewardship of Energy and Agriculture Act of 2007 to restore the health of the Chesapeake Bay."
If passed, CHESSEA will provide all Maryland farmers: more money for conservation practices, such as streamside buffers; greater access to "green payments;" funding support for development of manure-to-energy systems; and greater technical assistance in conservation planning and implementation. When combined with state and local funding, nitrogen pollution across the watershed could be reduced by 65 million pounds annually.
"Healthy farms are essential for a healthy Chesapeake Bay," said Senator Benjamin L. Cardin, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. "This bill is a win-win for everyone because it gives farmers the resources they need for the agricultural conservation programs while helping them succeed economically. At the same time, it improves the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay and its 150 tributaries."
"The Chesapeake Bay is a national treasure, and a national model of how sound science can guide regional partnerships to restore water quality," Baker said.
Source: Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF)