We're on Spring Break!

But don't worry . . . we'll be back real soon to tell more stories of the Chesapeake and how our waters are so important to our health, economy, and way of life. In the meantime, be sure to check out some of the events we have going on in the field this spring—from tree plantings to oyster restoration workshops to Bay Discovery trips on our skipjack the Stanley Norman! Come join us in the field to help Save the Bay!

Osprey return to nest
The return of the osprey is the tell-tale sign that spring has arrived in the Chesapeake region! Click here to learn more about osprey and visit our osprey cam and osprey tracking pages. Photo by Dennis Raulin.
 

What Chesapeake Bay Program Cuts Mean for Pennsylvania

_NEO3738
Photo by Neil Ever Osborne/iLCP.

It is labeled as the "Chesapeake Bay Program," but it means clean water for Pennsylvania. That's why we're alarmed by the proposed federal budget that would eliminate all funding for this critical program. 

Though the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's budget is not at stake, we're concerned about the fate of EPA's Chesapeake Bay Program because it plays an important role in coordinating and sustaining the federal/state partnership to restore the Bay and its rivers and streams. Most of the Bay Program's $73 million budget is distributed as grants to the Commonwealth and other states and Washington, D.C. to develop and implement pollution-reduction plans.

But where exactly does the money go and how does it support clean water? In Pennsylvania, Bay Program support goes to state and county agencies and nonprofits to help farmers and municipalities in designing and installing measures to cut down on polluted runoff. Bay Program money also provides fundamental support for water quality monitoring of rivers and streams feeding the Bay.  

If this money is lost, projects likes these could be at stake: 

  • A development of a cost-effective regional polluted runoff-reduction effort in York County. 
  • Restoration of the drinking water in the Octoraro Reservoir through work with Plain Sect farmers in Lancaster County.
  • Reduction of flooding and polluted runoff into the vulnerable and world class trout fishery, LeTort Spring in Carlisle, Cumberland County.

Those efforts are paying off. Monitoring of water quality shows pollution is going down. The Bay and its rivers are streams are the cleanest they've been in decades.  

But the proposed federal budget threatens to derail this success. The crippling effect that eliminating the Bay Program would have on pollution-reduction efforts in Pennsylvania is unacceptable and cannot be allowed to happen.

We urge you to make it loud and clear to Congress that clean water counts in Pennsylvania. Join more than 25,000 concerned CBF members, and sign our petition urging Congress to keep the Chesapeake Bay Program fully funded. If you've already done so—great! Please go one step further and call your members of Congress to let them know how important it is to fully fund the Bay Program. Click here to find phone numbers.

Pennsylvanians are already standing up for clean water. Actions like this are so important because losing significant investments from the Chesapeake Bay Program couldn't come at a worse time for Pennsylvania. While our rivers and streams are cleaner, the progress is tenuous, and the Commonwealth is facing significant state budget shortfalls.     

But clean water is good for Pennsylvania's economy. A 2014 economic analysis found that fully implementing the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint would increase the value of the Commonwealth's natural benefits by $6.2 billion a year. 

Roughly 19,000 miles of Pennsylvania rivers and streams are fouled by pollution. Without critical support from the Chesapeake Bay Program, progress will be reversed. Our economy, our health, and our quality of life will suffer.  

It isn't too late. As Congress considers the proposed federal budget, speak up for clean water in Pennsylvania and demand that the Chesapeake Bay Program be fully funded! 

—Harry Campbell, CBF's Pennsylvania Executive Director

To say that now is the Chesapeake Bay's moment in time has never been more true. Take action right now to urge Congress to reject the proposed federal budget and protect our Bay and rivers and streams.

 


What Chesapeake Bay Program Cuts Mean for Virginia

GilpinBrown
Photo by Gilpin Brown.

Since the release of the federal budget proposal to eliminate all funding for EPA's Chesapeake Bay Program, we've been getting a lot of questions about what the cuts could mean for Virginia and for CBF. 

Though the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's budget is not at stake, we're concerned about the fate of the Chesapeake Bay Program because it plays an important role in coordinating and sustaining the federal/state partnership to restore the Bay and its rivers and streams. This funding is critical to keeping Virginia waters clean. For starters, Bay Program funding has supported dozens of projects across the state that help clean up our local waterways, often via grants through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. For example:

  • In the Shenandoah Valley, Trout Unlimited is restoring habitat for native brook trout.
  • In Hampton, CBF and our partners are improving the health of the Hampton River by restoring oyster habitat, installing rain gardens, and engaging the community. 
  • In Richmond's Southside, CBF worked with a local church to build a massive vegetable garden that is irrigated by rain water harvested from the roof. The project provides fresh produce in an underserved community and transforms the property so that pollution no longer enters local streams that flow to the James River. 

EPA's Bay Program also provides about $9.3 million annually to the Commonwealth for programs that develop and implement clean-up plans to reduce pollution and monitor progress towards cleaner rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay. 

Removing this funding would put human health at risk by adding pollution to our waters. Virginia's already tight budget can't absorb those cuts, which could eliminate enforcement and accountability of laws that protect local water quality. 

A 2014 economic analysis found that fully implementing the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint would increase the value of Virginia's natural benefits by $8.3 billion annually. In many ways, Virginia has the most to gain economically from a restored Bay.

Support for the Bay Program crosses party lines. Republican and Democratic members of Congress from Virginia recently asked the president to support full funding for the Bay Program and both of Virginia's senators have urged leaders in Congress to reject the cuts. 

Across the state, Virginians are concerned about the implications of these cuts. Even Virginians who largely support the administration's proposed budget are against slashing Bay Program funds. Just take a look at the Richmond Times Dispatch editorial, headlined Trump is right on the budget but wrong on the Bay. 

The efforts coordinated by the Bay Program are working. We're seeing clearer water, more oysters and crabs, and more underwater grasses. There's still time to let Congress know that you do not support these cuts. Already, more than 25,000 passionate CBF supporters like you have taken action calling on Congress to stand up for the Chesapeake Bay watershed. If you haven't signed our petition yet, please do so now. If you have—great! Please go one step further and call your members of Congress to let them know how important it is to fully fund the Bay Program. Click here to find phone numbers. 

—Rebecca LePrell, CBF's Virginia Executive Director

To say that now is the Chesapeake Bay's moment in time has never been more true. Take action right now to urge Congress to reject the Trump Administration’s budget proposal and protect our Bay and rivers and streams.

 


Photo of the Week: West River Sunset

NancyMikesellThis photo was taken in Shady Side with a view of the sunset on the West River. Living on the West River for more than 25 years I have enjoyed amazing sunsets and beautiful views of the local wildlife. Our community is located on the point of the peninsula where the Chesapeake Bay and the West River meet.

 

The local waters hold much beautyeagles, ospreys (the resident osprey returned this week!), dolphins last summer, and local watermen cruising passed to make their living on the river and Bay. I treasure the Bay and its riversmajestic beauty that I am grateful for every day.

 

—Nancy Mikesell

 

Ensure that Nancy and future generations continue to enjoy extraordinary sights and places like these along the Chesapeake. Support the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint—the plan to Save the Bay and its waters! 

Do you have a favorite Chesapeake photo you'd like to submit to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Photo of the Week contest? Send your digital images to CBF's Director of Digital Media, Emmy Nicklin, at enicklin [at sign] cbf.org, along with a brief description of where and when you took the photo, and what the Chesapeake Bay means to you. We look forward to seeing your photos!


Five Reasons Why the Chesapeake Bay Program Is Critical to Saving the Bay

  Kramer_George__40702492_ChincoteagueDuskPhoto by George Kramer.

Last week, the Trump Administration issued a preliminary budget that eliminates all funding for the Chesapeake Bay Program (CBP), a critical part of the state/federal partnership to restore the Bay and its rivers and streams.

But what exactly does the Chesapeake Bay Program do, and how does potentially gutting it affect the health of the Bay?

The CBP is an unusual entity. It's an arm of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), but also a partnership of federal, state, and local agencies involved in the work of restoring the Chesapeake Bay, as well as a host of academic and non-profit partners. You can think of it as a large and diverse group working together, organized and partially funded by EPA. And it is responsible for hundreds of actions in the field that help Save the Bay, from rebuilding wetlands, to restoring oyster beds, and so much more.

That leads me to the Five Reasons the Chesapeake Bay Program Is Critical to Saving the Bay:

  1. It's working! At a time when we seem increasingly at odds about how to solve complex problems such as health care or terrorism, the unique collaboration to restore the Chesapeake is making concrete progress. Less pollution is entering the Bay, underwater grasses are thriving in certain areas, the dead zones of low oxygen are shrinking. The crab population is healthy. Even oysters are enjoying a modest comeback. But the recovery is fragile. The Bay Program is the glue holding it all together.

  2. The Program is really a family affair with partners sharing the wealth. The majority of its $73 million annual budget is distributed to the partner states, local governments, colleges, and non-profits for the work they do. They plant trees along streams, build "green infrastructure" in cities and suburbs to slow down and soak up polluted runoff, and help restore and protect oyster reefs. They increase public access to waterways, create habitat for crabs and rockfish, and work with farmers to reduce pollution from manure and fertilizer. The list goes on.

  3. We have the best scientific information and tools, thanks to the Chesapeake Bay Program. Like a sick patient, the Bay needs a scientific diagnosis and treatment. The Bay Program is the doctor of the Chesapeake. It coordinates the monitoring of water quality, the computer modeling of Bay health and progress, and the rest of the science. Eliminating the program would be like throwing away the patient's medical records.

  4. The partnership helps keep six states and the District of Columbia on track to meet their obligations in the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint. This is the regional plan to restore the Bay. After several decades of failed attempts to meet restoration goals, the jurisdictions agreed in 2010 to hold themselves accountable for reducing pollution in amounts set by science, and to report on their progress every two years. This accountability mechanism is working, with nitrogen pollution falling in nine main tributaries. Eliminate the Bay Program and you could stop this progress.

  5. The Bay Program takes the broad view. Its scientists and planners can see, for instance, how the entire region is developing, and inform individual states for their own land protection strategies. This is especially important for areas downstream of development, since pollution is likely to increase from growth. The Program also tracks how the region is doing to restore fisheries, and the habitat that crabs, fish, and oysters need. In an ecosystem of 64,000 square miles, it is critical to know how the whole system is functioning. No state alone can do this—only the Chesapeake Bay Program.

The Chesapeake Bay Program has been called a model of cooperative federalism, the system of government established in the American Constitution. It is the federal and state governments working together to solve a regional problem. Rather than eliminate it, we should be supporting it.

—Tom Zolper, CBF's Assistant Director of Media Relations

To say that now is the Chesapeake Bay's moment in time has never been more true. Take action right now to urge Congress to reject the Trump Administration’s budget proposal and protect our Bay and rivers and streams.

 


Chesapeake Bay's Future Imperiled

The following first appeared in The Virginian-Pilot.

Lafayette River bloom 1200
An algal bloom in Norfolk's Lafayette River. The health of the Bay and its rivers and streams is improving, but if draconian cuts to the Chesapeake Bay Program are enacted, scenes such as this might become the norm. Photo by Christy Everett/CBF Staff.

I'm angry and I'm upset. President Donald Trump has proposed something terrible. I'm not willing to trade a healthy Chesapeake Bay for a wall on the Mexican border.

Trump's budget proposal zeroes out the EPA's funding for the Chesapeake Bay Program: from $73 million to $0. You don't have to take my word for this: Please read the president's statement at the top of "America First, A Budget Blueprint to make America Great Again," then skip to page 41.

The Chesapeake Bay is a national treasure.

In the late 1970s, headlines declared that the bay was dying. Since then, government at all levels, business, and individuals have rolled up their sleeves and worked hard to "Save the Bay."

The effort has been bipartisan and, when tested in federal court, declared a model of cooperative federalism. It's working. The bay is recovering, but our progress is fragile, and the Chesapeake is far from saved.

The road to recovery, while clearly laid out, will not be easy and needs strong federal participation. The EPA Bay Program makes grants to states and municipalities to reduce pollution, monitors water quality, and coordinates the state/federal partnership that is the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint. The bay program's participation is absolutely essential.

Fortunately, there are checks and balances in our government. Congress appropriates and passes the budget, and we have time between now and the new fiscal year (which starts on Oct. 1) to make sure Congress restores funding for the bay.

Those of us fortunate enough to live in Hampton Roads have a deep connection to the environment. The James, Nansemond, Elizabeth, and the Lynnhaven Rivers and the Chesapeake Bay flow back and forth into each other.

We cross bridges and crawl through tunnels to get from one place to another. The water defines us.

We have celebrated recent signs of recovery in our waters. Oysters and crabs are rebounding, lush beds of underwater grasses thrive in some areas, and the water was so clear last summer that you could see the bottom six to eight feet below the surface. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation's most recent State of the Bay Report gave the estuary its highest score in the report's 18-year history. But, that score, a C-, is a stark reminder that much work remains.

The bay's nascent recovery comes after years of hard work. In his 1984 State of the Union address, President Ronald Reagan said, "Though this is a time of budget constraints, I have requested for EPA one of the largest percentage budget increases of any agency. We will begin the long, necessary effort to clean up a productive recreational area and a special national resource — the Chesapeake Bay."

Since then, every administration has worked with the states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed (from Cooperstown, N.Y., to Virginia Beach), the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and many similar organizations to "Save the Bay."

Trump's proposed budget zeroing out the EPA's bay program is an outrage. If passed by Congress, this could drive a stake in the heart of the Chesapeake's recovery.

Cuts to the EPA program could cause the bay and our rivers to revert to the national disgrace they were in the 1980s: fouled waters, sickly fish populations, and threats to human health. Zeroing out efforts to assist in restoring the Chesapeake Bay in favor of a wall makes no sense.

This is important. Please join me in sending a serious message to Congress that the Chesapeake Bay is a priority for Hampton Roads and the states all around the bay.

This is not about politics, it's about being good stewards of our environment. It's not about negotiating; it's a moral issue.

For assistance in contacting your congressional delegation please go to www.cbf.org/findmyreps.

—Harry Lester, Chairman, CBF Board of Trustees

More than 8,000 Bay lovers have taken action by calling on Congress to stand up for the Chesapeake Bay watershed. If you have not yet signed our petition, please do so now. If you have already, thank you. Please be sure to go one step further and call your congressional representatives. Click here to find their phone numbers. A clean and healthy Bay now and for generations to come depends on your voice!


Photo of the Week: The River Enriched Us

20170223_172121

This photo was taken at Church Point in St. Mary's City, Maryland. St. Mary's City was the fourth permanent English colony in America and the first capital of Maryland settled in 1634.

What the Bay means to me: I was reared here on Horseshoe Bay with my siblings. We lived next to, on, and in the St. Mary's River. The river enriched us in many ways, but most especially we learned the interconnection of all things. Living here raised our spiritual awareness and the realization that the most powerful thing in the universe is Love.

—Wick Jackson

Ensure that Wick and future generations continue to enjoy extraordinary sights and places like these along the Chesapeake. Support the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint—the plan to Save the Bay and its waters! 

Do you have a favorite Chesapeake photo you'd like to submit to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Photo of the Week contest? Send your digital images to CBF's Director of Digital Media, Emmy Nicklin, at enicklin [at sign] cbf.org, along with a brief description of where and when you took the photo, and what the Chesapeake Bay means to you. We look forward to seeing your photos!


The Clean Power Plan: How It Could Affect Chesapeake Bay Restoration

  Smokestack-air-pollution-odec-iStock_695x352Photo courtesy of iStock.

What happened?
In 2005, despite the significant body of scientific evidence showing a correlation between increased carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere and increasing global temperatures, EPA refused to develop regulations curbing the emission of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide from power plants, cars, and trucks.

Because of growing concern over climate change and sea level rise, several states, local governments, and private organizations brought a lawsuit to require EPA to create regulations designed to curb the emission of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, methane, and hydrofluorocarbons). In 2007, the Supreme Court held that given the clear scientific evidence for human-caused climate change and the potential for adverse human health impacts, EPA had the authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases. Click here to learn more about Massachusetts v. EPA, 549 U.S. 497 (2007).

Following the Supreme Court's direction, on August 3, 2015, EPA issued a new regulation under the Clean Air Act called the Clean Power Plan for Existing Power Plants ("The Plan"). 

Several types of power plants (coal, nuclear, gas, oil, hydroelectric) generate electricity for our homes and businesses. The Plan focuses on coal-burning power plants. Several lawsuits have been filed against EPA challenging the Plan. Those lawsuits are still pending. 

Now, President Trump has signaled that he wants to revoke the Plan. That could be attempted in several different ways, but all would require that the public be given notice of and the ability to comment on EPA's change in position. Citizens, states, or industry could later sue the government if they believed the agency's decision was arbitrary, capricious, or illegal.

How could elimination of the Clean Power Plan affect Bay restoration?
The Plan gives states three ways to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants within their borders. The most effective way would be to make the power plants more efficient in generating electricity; that is, make them burn less fuel to generate the same amount of electricity. Making these plants more fuel efficient or even shutting them down would mean the plants would emit less nitrogen oxides (NOx). Because NOx is a major source of nitrogen pollution to the Bay, implementation of the Power Plan would greatly improve Bay health. (See Bay TMDL, Appendix L and Eshleman, K., et al., "Declining nitrate-N yields in the Upper Potomac River Basin: What is really driving progress under Chesapeake Bay restoration?")

Once EPA decides to act, it is expected to tell the courts considering the Plan that it wants to reevaluate the rule so all litigation should be suspended. Then, it is likely that the agency will issue a new rule either reversing the earlier finding that greenhouse gases from power plants are causing climate change that is harming humans or revising the rule significantly to weaken its impact on coal-fired power plants. If the Trump Administration takes such action, it is expected that some states and private groups will sue EPA. A protracted legal fight is expected. 

CBF's legal and policy teams are monitoring EPA's actions with respect to the Clean Power Plan and will take the appropriate actions if required to preserve the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint and ensure Bay restoration moves forward. 

—Jon A. Mueller, CBF Vice President for Litigation

Click here to learn about what you can do right now to support clean water across our region.

 


Presidential Executive Order on Reducing Regulations: How It Could Affect Chesapeake Bay Restoration

Schlyer-cbr-9353Photo by Krista Schlyer/iLCP.

What happened?
On January 30, 2017, President Trump issued an Executive Order stating that whenever any federal agency issues a new regulation or policy, it must also eliminate two existing regulations or policies. Click here to read the Presidential Executive Order on Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs. The order is written very broadly and could apply to every new or updated regulation or agency policy statement. The President also ordered that the cost of implementing new regulations or policies be zero. 

How is this Executive Order potentially problematic for the Bay's cleanup plan?
Two federal laws provide the primary means for reducing Bay pollution: the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act. Congress empowered EPA to meet the requirements of these laws by developing regulations after considering public and state input. Many of those regulations must be updated from time to time to meet changes in technology that can further reduce pollution or to reflect new scientific knowledge. 

Following the Clean Water Act, EPA worked with the Bay jurisdictions to determine how much pollution was safe for people and all the life within the Bay, including rockfish, crabs, oysters and other species, many upon which we depend for food and jobs. The states developed plans to meet those pollution limits for sources within their borders. We call the federal pollution limits and the state plans, together, the Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Blueprint. The deadline for completing the Blueprint is 2025. 

In 2017, the pollution limits that are a part of the Blueprint, are due to be updated. It is possible that the update will be covered by the Executive Order. If this occurs, EPA would have to eliminate two existing regulations and ensure that the cost of meeting the new Blueprint pollution limits is zero. Given the amount of pollution to be reduced over six states and the District of Columbia, it would be extremely difficult for EPA to meet that test. EPA therefore could decide to not update the Blueprint, which would limit the effectiveness of the states' plans and lead states to potentially not meet the 2025 deadline.

Even if the Blueprint is not covered by the Executive Order, certain Clean Air Act regulations essential for the Bay's recovery are subject to the order.

The Blueprint recognizes that millions of pounds of nitrogen land directly in the Bay from air pollution. That nitrogen comes largely from burning fossil fuels to, for example, provide electricity and power our cars. The Blueprint provides that new Clean Air Act regulations would limit nitrogen from those sources. Some of those regulations must be updated. Because of the order, however, EPA may not improve those rules and the amount of nitrogen from the air may not be decreased sufficiently to meet Blueprint goals and a restored Bay. 

Blueprint success depends upon EPA's ability to fulfill its obligations under these federal laws. However, there are many different ways the order could limit EPA's ability to act—and make it harder for Bay states to hit their pollution-reduction goals. Because, in addition to its legal implications, the Executive Order contradicts the essential partnership that EPA entered into with the states through the Blueprint. The states are relying on EPA's help, and if this order leads EPA to act contrary to the partnership, it will make it that much harder for the states to clean up their local rivers and streams and the Bay.

CBF's legal and policy teams are monitoring the effect of the Executive Order and will take the appropriate actions if required to preserve the Blueprint and ensure Bay restoration. 

—Jon A. Mueller, CBF Vice President for Litigation

Click here to learn about what you can do right now to support clean water across our region.

 


Marylanders Agree: Hands off Our Oyster Sanctuaries

With more than six million residents, Maryland is a melting pot of diverse citizens, with different political leanings, religious beliefs, and racial backgrounds. Differences aside, all Marylanders are affected by the health of the state's rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay.

Integral to the health of the Bay is the mighty oyster. A keystone species of the Bay, a single adult oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water a day. In addition to their filtering prowess, oysters settle on one another and grow, forming reefs that provide shelter for other critters.

Despite their hallmark status in the Bay's ecosystem, the native oyster population is just a fraction of what it once was as a result of disease, pollution, and overharvesting. In 2010, Maryland and other Bay states joined together to increase the native oyster population, establishing sanctuary reefs to allow oysters to proliferate unencumbered by harvesting. These reefs grew and expanded, with the estimated number of oysters in the Bay more than doubling between 2010 and 2014.

A recent poll conducted by a bipartisan research team found Marylanders understand and appreciate this success, with overwhelming support to maintain existing Chesapeake Bay oyster sanctuaries.

The numbers speak for themselves:Oyster Poll Results Graphic-1200

This strong support exists across party lines, as approximately 91 percent of registered Democrats, 89 percent of Independents, and 82 percent of Republicans support sanctuaries. Moreover, public support for the sanctuaries actually increased after the survey summarized the oyster industry's reasons for wanting to expand harvesting, rising from 88 percent to 91 percent.

This consensus is quite a contrast to the recently submitted proposal by the Maryland Oyster Advisory Commission to let the oyster industry harvest nearly 1,000 acres of oyster reefs which currently are off-limits to harvesting.

Currently, the Maryland General Assembly is considering a bill (HB 924) which would require the state to hold off on any alterations of the oyster sanctuaries until a scientific assessment of the oyster stock is completed in 2018.

The success of Maryland and the Bay, North America's largest estuary and a true national treasure, are mutually interdependent. Shaping more than just the state's coastline, Maryland's economy, culture, and history are covered with the Bay's fingerprints. No critter is more important to this success than the oyster. And while the recent State of the Bay report finds the health of the Bay is rebounding, it remains a system dangerously out of balance.

Those who call the Old Line State home might have their differences, but Marylanders across the board agree on this: Our oyster sanctuaries are worth protecting.

—Drew Robinson, CBF's Digital Media Associate

Take action right now to urge Maryland legislators to protect oyster sanctuaries and the value they provide to clean water and countless marine species.