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Advocates: Proposed Cuts Would Cripple Water Cleanup

Restoring the Chesapeake Bay requires cleaning up Pennsylvania rivers and streams. (Nicholas A. Tonelli/Flickr)
Restoring the Chesapeake Bay requires cleaning up Pennsylvania rivers and streams. (Nicholas A. Tonelli/Flickr)
March 13, 2017

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Clean-water advocates say proposed federal cuts in Chesapeake Bay restoration funds would reverse years of progress.

The Trump administration is proposing a 93 percent cut in federal funding for the Chesapeake Bay Program, a multi-state agreement administered by the Environmental Protection Agency. Pennsylvania is the source of an estimated 60-percent of the pollution flowing into the bay.

According to Harry Campbell, executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation Pennsylvania office, a cut of that size would significantly reduce the EPA's fundamental role in the cleanup effort.

"It's actually quite critical to the success that Pennsylvania and the other principal bay states have had in not only helping to improve the Chesapeake Bay, but to clean up our local rivers and streams," Campbell said.

The proposed cut, from $73 million to just $5 million, could be reduced or eliminated as Congress begins work on a final budget.

Campbell points out that much of the federal funding goes directly to Pennsylvania farmers to help them design and implement plans to cut down on agricultural pollution. And those efforts do more than clean up the water.

"We see increased herd health, increased productivity, reduced need for chemical fertilizers, and overall a more productive and economically viable agricultural community," he explained.

A significant amount of the funds for Pennsylvania's Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts come from the EPA.

The Clean Water Blueprint has made solid, measurable progress toward the restoration of Chesapeake Bay - progress Campbell attributes to a successful partnership between watershed states and the EPA.

"The federal government and its investment in the Chesapeake Bay Program is a vital and necessary component of that effort," he stated.

He added that funding for the Chesapeake Bay cleanup also has broad, bipartisan support in Congress.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - PA