BALTIMORE (WJZ) — It’s a President Donald Trump proposal that threatens to gut efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay.
Alex DeMetrick reports, there’s a resistance forming just over the Bay Bridge, aiming to stop the budget cut before it happens.
“I’m tired of defense,” says Senator Ben Cardin. “It’s only been two months.”
Two months, that is, since the president released his budget plans. His EPA budget proposal, in particular, would eliminate $73 million the agency spends to head up the Chesapeake Bay Program.
“Zeroing out the Chesapeake Bay Program is a non-starter for many of us,” Cardin says. “It’s a very important part of the progress we’ve been able to make on the bay, and we’re going to fight and do everything we can do to make sure those funds are maintained.”
A joint federal-state partnership, the bay program monitors clean-up efforts. The focus is on over 150 rivers and streams running through six watershed states that empty into the Chesapeake. The program works to reduce sources of pollution running off the land into those waterways.
“Two-thirds of that $73 million has been spent directly for pollution reduction, making the water cleaner,” says Will Baker of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
And over the past few years, that cleaner water has brought back crucial underwater grasses, while massive algae blooms fed by nitrogen pollution have shrunk.
“What we’ve found out in our research is that the dead zone, the summer dead zone, is actually shrinking over time,” says Dr. Donald Boesch, of the UM Center for Environmental Science.
The goal isn’t just to stop the budget cut, but to actually increase bay spending.
“Should be $100 million, and certainly not zero, and we’ll fight to get the maximum appropriation,” says Senator Cardin, who already has commitments from other congressional Democrats and Republicans, to keep the bay program funded in a final budget.