Monday, February 08, 2010

The Chesapeake Clean Water and Ecosystem Act of 2009

The Chesapeake Clean Water and Ecosystem Act of 2009 (S. 1816), sponsored by Senator Benjamin Cardin, left, replaces section 117 of the Clean Water Act, which governs the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program. Key provisions of the bill are:

· The legislation gives the states of the Chesapeake Bay strong new tools to restore the Bay and for the first time sets a firm deadline of 2025 for all restoration efforts to be in place. The internal and final deadlines for action coincide with the Executive Council’s timeline for Chesapeake restoration. Unlike earlier, missed deadlines, this one will become a legally binding part of the Clean Water Act.

· The bill also significantly expands federal grants. The Chesapeake Restoration bill authorizes a new $1.5 billion grants program to control urban/suburban polluted stormwater, the only pollution sector that is still growing. Grants to the states, small watershed organizations, and for comprehensive monitoring programs are all newly created or expanded in the draft bill.

· At least 10% of state implementation grants are set aside for NY, DE and WV. These headwater states have never been guaranteed any access to these funds in the past.

· At least 20% of the implementation grants are allocated for technical assistance to farmers and foresters to help them access Farm Bill funds and implement conservation practices on their farms.

· The bill codifies President Obama’s Chesapeake Bay Executive Order, which requires annual Federal Action Plans across all federal departments to restore the Bay.

(Office of Senator Benjamin Cardin)

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