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Kaine Joins Chesapeake Bay Delegation Members in Urging Commitment to 2014 Watershed Agreement Goals in Next Phase of Restoration

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) joined Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Representatives John Sarbanes (D-MD-03), Bobby Scott (D-VA-03), Rob Wittman (R-VA-01) and Andy Harris (R-MD-01) in sending a letter to the Principals’ Staff Committee of the Chesapeake Executive Council emphasizing the need for continued commitment to the goals of the 2014 Chesapeake Watershed Agreement, a landmark accord that established goals and outcomes for the restoration of the Bay, its tributaries and the lands that feed them. The bipartisan letter was signed by 25 other representatives and senators who represent districts across the watershed.

While the Chesapeake Bay Program has accomplished great progress over the last decade, most, but not all, goals of the 2014 Agreement will be realized by 2025. This presents a critical opportunity for the Chesapeake Executive Council – comprised of the governors of the six watershed states, the mayor of the District of Columbia, the Chair of the Chesapeake Bay Commission and the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – to apply lessons learned and intentionally chart a course for the future in light of new understandings of the ecosystems, economies and people impacted by the Bay’s restoration.

 “With so much at stake, we urge the signatories of the 2014 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement to affirm their continuing commitment at this December’s Executive Council Meeting to the partnership and ultimate goal of that Agreement – to restore the Bay and its watershed for the benefit of all its residents,” the lawmakers wrote. “It is imperative that the signatories evaluate, amend and recommit to the Agreement by the end of 2025 to build on four decades of progress by strategically and expeditiously updating specific goals and outcomes to reflect the current, best available science.”

Specifically, the lawmakers expressed support for holistic updates to the 2014 Agreement that will:

  • Be well informed by public input, scientific and ecological expertise and suggestions from the Chesapeake Bay Program partnership’s three existing Advisory Committees and other stakeholders;
  • Streamline the structure of the Chesapeake Bay Program to maximize the financial and technical resources provided to jurisdictions and optimize efficient coordination between participants;
  • Include strong restoration commitments from each participant to meet clean water goals as defined in the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL);
  • Reflect the importance of all corners of the watershed and the unique perspectives and specific priorities that each partner brings; and
  • Recognize successes and opportunities for improvement as some participants will require targeted resources and technical assistance to meet desired outcomes.

“The Chesapeake Bay is a national treasure with a rich history and important role in the Commonwealth’s ecology and economy,” said Sen. Kaine. “I’m proud of the steps we’ve taken so far to restore the Bay, but we must continue to build on this progress. I urge the Council to take up an ambitious plan to protect the Bay for generations to come.”

“We will never stop working to improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed,” said Sen. Cardin. “A healthy Bay is central to the health of our region – economically, environmentally and culturally. We all must continue to work together in this critical next phase of the restoration effort to protect this national treasure.”

“The tremendous progress of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed over the past four decades has been made possible by the strong and continued partnership of the Chesapeake Executive Council,” said Rep. Sarbanes. “The signatories’ continuing commitment to our shared goals and outcomes beyond 2025 will protect the long-term health of the Bay and ensure that it remains an environmental treasure and economic driver for years to come.”

“Despite increasing development in the watershed and climate change exerting pressure on its ecosystem, we are continuing to make progress towards restoring the Chesapeake Bay. This is a testament to the commitment, vision, and continued work of the Chesapeake Executive Council and partners from across the watershed. By incorporating lessons learned in the next phase, we can ensure we are successful in restoring this national treasure and its tributaries for future generations,” said Rep. Scott.

“The Chesapeake Bay is integral to our way of life in Virginia’s First District, and it is critical to the environmental and economic health of our region and Commonwealth,” said Rep. Wittman. “I’m proud of all the progress made through the partnerships created in the 2014 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement, but there is still more work to be done. We’ve got to come together to continue our commitment to this partnership to achieve our shared goals of protecting our Chesapeake Bay for generations to come.”

“The Chesapeake Bay is a national treasure that must be preserved for future generations to enjoy and its economic impact on Maryland's First Congressional District is immeasurable. I am committed to supporting commonsense, multi-state solutions that protect the Bay and its precious waterways,” said Rep. Harris.

The full letter can be viewed here.