Record Observer - - Opinion -

Pres­i­dent Trump’s pro­posed elim­i­na­tion of all fund­ing for EPA’s Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Pro­gram shows to­tal dis­re­gard for the econ­omy, job cre­ation op­por­tu­ni­ties, pub­lic health, and the pro­tec­tion of our nat­u­ral re­sources here on the Del­marva Penin­sula.

This dis­re­gard fright­ens and dis­cour­ages me. Through the ef­forts of nu­mer­ous lo­cal, re­gional and other or­ga­ni­za­tions, and their cit­i­zen vol­un­teers, there has been im­pres­sive progress made in restor­ing our streams, rivers and the Bay. How­ever, much work re­mains to be done. These wa­ters re­main frag­ile. They can quickly de­grade. The ques­tion is — do we want a na­tional dis­grace or a na­tional trea­sure?

There is no sta­tus quo. We con­tinue the restora­tion or ac­cept pol­luted wa­ters and the wide rang­ing eco­nomic and pub­lic health con­se­quences.

Much of the re­cent well doc­u­mented suc­cess be­ing made in clean­ing up our wa­ters is a re­sult of the Ch­e­sa­peake Clean Water Blue­print and the sci­ence on which it is based. Agreed to in 2010, it is a bi­par­ti­san ef­fort be­ing un­der­taken by the six Bay states and the Dis­trict of Columbia to re­duce pol­lu­tion in our wa­ters. Each state has goals to meet and is com­mit­ted to meet them.

The Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Pro­gram is a crit­i­cal part of the Clean Water Blue­print. Funded at $73 mil­lion in its 2017 bud­get, the Bay Pro­gram in­vests roughly 2/3 of its bud­get in grants awarded to states, mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and oth­ers to as­sist in meet­ing the pol­lu­tion re­duc­tion goals. The re­main­ing dol­lars sup­port re­lated sci­ence and the mon­i­tor­ing of re­sults.

The ef­fects of elim­i­nat­ing Bay Pro­gram fund­ing are enor­mous right here at home on the Del­marva Penin­sula. Jobs will be lost, busi­nesses may well dis­ap­pear, and any hope of sus­tained eco­nomic vi­tal­ity will be in­creas­ingly chal­leng­ing. The ef­fect of pol­luted water on hu­man health is ob­vi­ous to all and some­thing we can­not tol­er­ate. And of course, when our nat­u­ral re­sources are lost, they are lost for­ever.

Ron­ald Rea­gan in 1984 said the Ch­e­sa­peake is “a spe­cial na­tional re­source.” At a time when nec­es­sary bud­get cuts were be­ing un­der­taken, he saw the need to in­crease EPA’s bud­get, not elim­i­nate crit­i­cal ini­tia­tives.

We cit­i­zens of Del­marva are truly un­der at­tack. Congress will ei­ther sup­port this at­tack or rec­og­nize it as un­ac­cept­able and not tol­er­ate the con­se­quences. It is time to have our voices heard. We must fin­ish the job.

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