The House Agriculture Committee passed the bipartisan Chesapeake Bay Program Reauthorization and Improvement Act, which was introduced by Congressmen Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Tim Holden (D-PA). This legislation will protect the health of the Chesapeake Bay while also ensuring the strength and vitality of our family farms and local communities within the Bay Watershed.
"The Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in the U.S., is an incredibly complex ecosystem that includes important habitats and is a cherished part of our American heritage," said Congressman Goodlatte. "The Bay Watershed includes all types of land uses, from intensely urban areas, spread out suburban development and diverse agricultural practices. But 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."
Congressman Goodlatte worked hard to ensure that the 2008 Farm Bill provided unprecedented incentive-based funding to help farmers and ranchers improve management practices, which would directly result in improving water quality in the Chesapeake Bay. The Chesapeake Bay Program Reauthorization and Improvement Act is the next step in restoring and protecting the Bay.
There are other proposals to reauthorize the Bay Program. The goal of all involved is the same, the continued health and vitality of the Bay, but the map to that health and vitality is being strongly debated. Unfortunately, proposals like the Presidential Executive Order, and legislation that would codify this order, which would force more mandates and overzealous regulations on all of those who live, work, and farm in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. This strategy will limit economic growth and unfairly over-regulate our local economies.
Goodlatte continued, "Instead of overregulation and intrusion into the lives and livelihoods of those who choose to make the Bay Watershed their home, the Chesapeake Bay Program Reauthorization and Improvement Act allows states and communities more flexibility in meeting water quality goals so that we can help restore and protect our natural resources."
Specifically this bill sets up new programs to give farmers, homebuilders, and localities new ways to meet their water quality goals. The bill also makes sure that the agencies are using common sense when regulating water quality goals for localities. Additionally, this bill calls for a review of the EPA's Bay model while also calling for a review to determine if taxpayer dollars are being spent prudently.
"The people who call the Bay Watershed home are the ones who are the most concerned about protecting and restoring the Chesapeake Bay," said Congressman Goodlatte. "Unfortunately, too often these hardworking individuals are cast as villains and placed in a position where restoring the Bay is pitted against the economic livelihoods of their communities. We can restore the Bay while also maintaining the economic livelihood of these communities. The Chesapeake Bay Program Reauthorization and Improvement Act is the way we can do both. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Congress, so that we can pass this important legislation and work to restore the Chesapeake Bay."
The legislation will now be sent to the full House of Representatives for consideration.