The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) thanked the House Appropriations Committee for approving two spending bills for fiscal year 2023 that contain encouraging levels of funding for the restoration of marine species vital to the Bay Area economy and educating young people about the Bay and its tributaries.
The committee approved the energy and water appropriations bill for fiscal year 2023 by a vote of 32 to 24. The bill includes $3.5 million, the same amount requested by President Biden , for the Army Corps of Engineers to carry out large-scale oyster restoration projects. The 2014 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement calls on Maryland and Virginia to restore oyster reefs in 11 tributaries to the bay (five in Maryland, six in Virginia) by 2025.
Restoring the oyster population is essential to saving the Bay. An adult oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water per day. The oyster reefs also provide critical habitat for fish, crabs and other marine life at the heart of the bay’s multi-billion dollar seafood economy.
The committee also approved the Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2023 by a vote of 31 to 24. The bill would increase funding for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to conserve and restore the marine species habitat nationwide at $57.5 million, compared to $55 million in fiscal year 2022.
Funds from this account support NOAA’s work to restore native oyster populations, improve the bay’s resilience to climate change impacts such as sea level rise and coastal erosion, and manage d important regional fisheries such as blue crabs and redfish.
NOAA is part of the US Department of Commerce. NOAA’s Chesapeake Bay Office is a key federal partner in implementing the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement to restore the bay’s ecosystem. The Chesapeake Bay office also administers NOAA’s environmental education program in the watershed.
Bill would increase funding for NOAA’s Bay Watershed Regional Education and Training (B-WET) program to $9.25 million for fiscal year 2023, from $8.25 million for the current fiscal year. The program operates in seven regions across the country, including the Chesapeake Bay.
Thanks to Chesapeake B-WET, elementary and secondary school students in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia come out to conduct their own research and learn about the relationships between water quality, fishing and the economy of the bay area. Improving environmental knowledge is an important element of the Bay Watershed Agreement.
Following the markup, CBF Federal Executive Director Denise Sranko released this statement:
“CBF thanks the House Appropriations Committee for its continued support of important programs for restoring the bay’s oysters and other iconic marine species, improving the region’s resilience to climate change, and educating the next generation of Bay-savers.
“We are especially grateful for the committee’s proposals to increase funding for NOAA’s Chesapeake Bay Office’s work in conserving marine habitats and promoting environmental literacy among young people. These increases are wise and timely investments in our region’s economy and in the future of this national treasure.
“The CBF appreciates the hard work of House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Committee Ranking Member Kay Granger (R-Tex.), Commerce Appropriations Subcommittee Chair- Justice-Science Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.), Subcommittee Ranking Member Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.), Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) , Subcommittee Ranking Member Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.).
“We also thank members of the House Appropriations Committee Bay delegation, Reps. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.), David Trone (D-Md.), Andy Harris (R-Md.), and Ben Cline (R-Va.). “