Cardin calls for con­tin­ued, in­creased fund­ing for Bay cleanup

Call for in­crease, not cut, in restora­tion fund­ing

Record Observer - - FRONT PAGE - By MIKE DAVIS mdavis@kibay­times.com

STEVENSVILLE — In the face of a po­ten­tial dras­tic cut to fed­eral fund­ing to Ch­e­sa­peake Bay pro­grams, law­mak­ers gath­ered at Hem­ing­way’s Restau­rant on Kent Is­land to voice their displeasure with Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s pro­posed bud­get and gave cre­dence to the im­por­tance of a healthy body of wa­ter.

U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin, D-Md., and Tom Carper, D-Del., joined by Mary­land state Del. Sheree Sam­ple-Hughes, D-37A-Wi­comico, Sal­is­bury Mayor Jake Day and Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Foun­da­tion Pres­i­dent Wil­liam Baker, stood in front of the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Bridge and urged col­leagues and com­mu­nity mem­bers to speak out against the pro­posed $73 mil­lion de­crease in Bay restora­tion fund­ing.

Hav­ing been de­clared a na­tional trea­sure by var­i­ous pres­i­dents, Cardin said the “unique way of life” the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay pro­vides would be al­tered un­less more at­ten­tion is given to the en­vi­ron­ment.

Rep­re­sent­ing tril­lions of dol­lars to the econ­omy, the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay, which pro­vides jobs and tourism and is “part of the char­ac­ter of our re­gion,” Cardin said, needs to be pro­tected in times of chal­lenges.

While he served in the state leg­is­la­ture, Cardin said stake­hold­ers were brought to­gether and the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Pro­gram was de­vel­oped be­cause a need to gather all en­ti­ties was vi­tal in making progress in re­vi­tal­iz­ing the dam­aged wa­ter­shed.

Not only con­cerned with the fed­eral and state part­ner­ship and the pres­i­dent’s “skinny bud­get,” Cardin high­lighted the at­tack from the ad­min­is­tra­tion on science, a key foun­da­tion to the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Pro­gram, he said.

“We need to make sure that we pro­tect those wa­ters that are com­ing into the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay and the wa­ters of the United States that af­fect so many ar­eas around this coun­try,” Cardin said.

When he served as gov­er­nor of Delaware, Carper said the state be­came a bet­ter neigh­bor with Mary­land af­ter re­al­iz­ing the dam­ages to the Bay it had con­trib­uted to through farm runoff. With loads of chicken farms comes loads of chicken ma­nure, which in turn in­creases phos­pho­rus and ni­tro­gen lev­els of runoff lead­ing into the wa­ter­ways of the Bay, he said.

Work­ing with farmers to mit­i­gate the prob­lem and con­trib­ute to restor­ing the wa­ter’s qual­ity, the Nu­tri­ent Man­age­ment Com­mis­sion was cre­ated to over­see the plans, cer­ti­fi­ca­tions and main­te­nance of ma­nure spread­ing.

With the help of mul­ti­ple states and re­gions, the Bay has im­proved, Carper said, and fund­ing needs to be pro­vided to con­tinue the work. The pro­posed fed­eral bud­get, he said, ends years of good work.

“Let’s walk away from what’s work­ing in terms of cli­mate change, let’s walk away from what’s work­ing with re­spect to clean air and let’s walk away from what’s work­ing with re­spect to the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay,” Carper said of the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ap­proach to the Eastern Shore’s eco­nomic en­gine.

Baker, pres­i­dent of the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Foun­da­tion, said the Bay de­fines those who live in the re­gion and is “cen­tral to our his­tory, to our lit­er­a­ture, to our cul­ture and cer­tainly to our econ­omy.”

Baker em­pha­sized the state and fed­eral part­ner­ship through­out the years, span­ning mul­ti­ple decades, and how the Bay has re­sponded from those col­lab­o­ra­tions.

“It’s work­ing, it’s bi­par­ti­san, it’s non­con­tro­ver­sial, it’s science based and it’s a part­ner­ship,” Baker said. “The fed­eral part­ner must not quit now. We must not let the fed­eral part­ner quit right as it’s start­ing to work.”

Rather than cut­ting Ch­e­sa­peake Bay restora­tion fund­ing to zero, Baker wants to see an in­crease to the thresh­old for the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency’s Bay pro­gram to $100 mil­lion. He said those funds help pol­lu­tion re­duc­tion projects on fed­eral, state and lo­cal scales.

“Clean wa­ter is a right ... nowhere more im­por­tant than here on the Ch­e­sa­peake,” he said.

Sam­ple-Hughes said, though en­vi­ron­men­tal progress has been made, “we can’t rest on our lau­rels.” She said many un­der­stand the im­por­tance the pro­posed cuts would have, but it is equally vi­tal to un­der­stand the unan­tic­i­pated con­se­quences of that ac­tion.

Ref­er­enc­ing in­sti­tu­tions of higher ed­u­ca­tion through­out the re­gion that use en­vi­ron­men­tal data and other re­sources ac­crued through Bay pro­gram­ing, she said those places must be equipped with the fi­nan­cial re­sources and in­for­ma­tion.

The ti­tle of “Cap­i­tal of the Eastern Shore,” Day said in ref­er­enc­ing his town of Sal­is­bury, comes not from ego but from pride. As one of the fastest grow­ing job mar­kets in the coun­try, Day said that suc­cess comes from the town’s lo­ca­tion and hav­ing res­i­dents who choose to live and play in a place that takes care of it­self, “un­like it did for cen­turies, for decades.”

Though there have been good and bad, wet and dry years, Day said progress has been made in re­duc­ing bac­te­ria, ni­tro­gen and sed­i­ment into the Wi­comico River. He said the pro­grams are work­ing and the tra­jec­tor y of the Bay’s health is in­creas­ing.

“Th­ese cuts are re­vers­ing the tremen­dous en­vi­ron­men­tal gains that we have seen, and this is the mo­ment we should be do­ing more, not less,” Day said.

Day said ab­so­lutes only work in the­o­ret­i­cal math­e­mat­ics, and the de­con­struc­tion of En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency fund­ing and pro­gram­ing “is bad for the peo­ple of Sal­is­bury, it’s bad for peo­ple of the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay re­gion, it’s bad for the peo­ple of Mar yland and Delaware, and it’s bad for Amer­ica.”

PHOTO BY MIKE DAVIS

U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin speaks out against Pres­i­dent Trump’s pro­posed de­fund­ing of Ch­e­sa­peake Bay pro­grams dur­ing a press con­fer­ence at Hem­ing­way’s Restau­rant in Stevensville on Mon­day, April 17.

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