The House Committee on Natural Resources today approved legislation authored by Congressman Rob Wittman (VA-01). With approval by the Committee, the Chesapeake Bay Accountability and Recovery Act (H.R. 739) and the Permanent Electronic Duck Stamp Act (H.R. 1206) are now eligible for consideration by the U.S. House.
The Chesapeake Bay Accountability and Recovery Act proposes to fundamentally alter the management and improve efficiency of the use of federal resources to clean-up the Chesapeake Bay. Wittman lauded passage of the bill:
"This legislation will improve the efficiency of resources dedicated to the clean-up of the Chesapeake Bay, while demanding accountability of dollars focused for restoration of this great resource. With over 30 years working along the shores of the Bay, I am determined that every dollar going toward the restoration of this historic body of water be spent wisely. The Bay provides a way of life for so many in Virginia; it is an economic driver, a job-creator and a recreational treasure. I continue to challenge every area of government to do more with less; this bill promotes efficient utilization of taxpayer dollars and that just makes sense."
Wittman's legislation would fully implement two cutting-edge management techniques, crosscut budgeting and adaptive management to enhance coordination, flexibility and efficiency of restoration efforts. These techniques have been used successfully in the Everglades and the Great Lakes; however, they have not been fully implemented in Bay restoration efforts, where results have lagged far behind the billions of dollars spent. Additionally, the legislation would create a Chesapeake Bay Program Independent Evaluator to review and report to Congress on restoration activities in the watershed. The Chesapeake Bay partnership includes 10 federal agencies, six states and the District of Columbia, over one thousand localities and multiple non-governmental organizations. To date, the complexity of the participants has resulted in a muddled effort. In drafting this legislation, Wittman drew heavily on his 26 years of experience as a shellfish specialist monitoring water quality and environmental health issues in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
Also approved by the Committee, the Permanent Electronic Duck Stamp Act aims to permanently make federal duck stamps available for purchase online. The bill would allow sportsmen across the country to more easily obtain a federal duck stamp through an electronic program, rather than requiring an in-person visit to a local Post Office. Sale and distribution of federal duck stamps fund conservation of vital waterfowl habitat across the country.