Today, Congressmen Tim Holden (D-PA), and Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Conservation, Credit, Energy, and Research, introduced the Chesapeake Bay Program Reauthorization and Improvement Act. This bill will support ongoing efforts to reduce the pollution flowing into the Chesapeake Bay Watershed by providing agriculture producers the tools and certainty they need to implement conservation practices on their land and by giving all sectors the flexibility to meet their regulatory requirements under the Clean Water Act (CWA).
The Chesapeake Bay is the nation's largest and most diverse estuary. In the 2008 Farm Bill, Congress established a new Chesapeake Bay Watershed Program to help reduce nutrients and sediment that can flow into the Bay Watershed. That program has been very popular among landowners in the region and has built upon the ongoing work USDA and its partners have been undertaking. Although this effort is barely underway, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently announced new regulatory measures to reduce nitrogen, phosphours, and sediment going into the Chesapeake Bay Watershed through the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) process. In response to this action, Congressmen Holden and Congressman Goodlatte introduced a bill to build upon the success of the 2008 Farm Bill by providing agriculture producers resources and certainty through an assurance program. The bill also establishes guidelines for a regional trading system that will allow farmers and industry the ability to participate in Bay-wide trading program to help achieve reduction goals.
"The 2008 Farm Bill took significant steps to address water quality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed," said Congressman Holden. "This new program builds upon that initiative to improve water quality and quantity; restore, enhance and preserve wildlife habitat without economic harm to our communities and producers. I look forward to a continuing dialogue with others interested in Chesapeake Bay restoration activities as we attempt to move legislation that addresses water quality concerns while continuing to increase economic opportunities for the residents of the watershed.
"Almost 200 miles long, the Chesapeake Bay is a wonderful resource, still beautiful and still teeming with life that we both harvest and appreciate, said Rep. Bob Goodlatte. "Unquestionably the Bay is in need and worthy of our attention and concern and I believe everyone has a role to play in restoring it. Today I am pleased to join with Congressman Holden in introducing legislation which will protect the health of the Bay while also ensuring the strength and vitality of our family farms and local communities within the Bay Watershed."