Biden Joins Effort to Protect Chesapeake Bay
WASHINGTON , DC - U.S. Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) today joined with both Maryland Senators in introducing legislation that will dramatically increase federal funding for the Chesapeake Bay clean-up effort. The Chesapeake's Healthy and Environmentally Sound Stewardship of Energy and Agriculture Act of 2007 (CHESSEA) is part of the fiscal year '07 agricultural reauthorization bill, and is designed to give area farmers the resources they need to reduce the agricultural run-off that seriously damages the water quality and ecosystem of the Bay.
Each year, roughly 300 million pounds of nitrogen reach the Chesapeake Bay. Scientists agree that the majority of nitrogen pollution comes from human activity such as sewage treatment plants, agricultural run-off and automobile emissions. An overabundance of nitrogen can create serious ecological problems including the killing of fish and wildlife and area vegetation.
"The Chesapeake Bay is as much a part of Delaware's cultural, economic and recreational fabric as if it were within our state's borders - in fact, nearly half of our agricultural lands drain to this estuary," said Senator Biden. "It's vital that we do whatever it takes to protect this valuable watershed and all of its tributaries, while being responsive to the needs of hard-working farmers in the area. This bill will go a long way toward improving the health of the Chesapeake and giving our farmers the assistance they need to be good stewards."
Specifically, the bill provides more financial and technical assistance for the farmers in the watershed area by expanding the criteria for existing U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) conservation programs. The legislation creates a $10 million a year Bay technical assistance pilot program for comprehensive conservation planning, design and implementation. It also provides energy-related grants and loans to farmers and businesses for converting biomass to fuels and energy, purchasing renewable energy systems, and making energy efficiency improvements.
The Chesapeake Bay watershed is approximately 64,000 square miles long with nearly 16 million people living and working in the watershed region. Delaware is one of six states - and Washington, DC - considered part of the watershed area.