June 6, 2017
On May 5th, President Trump proposed and signed a budget plan for 2018 that plans to drastically change the attempts America has been making to improve our environment. What Trump has proposed is a three billion dollar cut to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that would lead to 3,500 EPA employees losing. This is especially concerning to Maryland and other states in the Chesapeake Bay region because it will stop the immense efforts the Chesapeake Bay Program has spent years making in order to improve the estuary that offers a habitat to species such as blue crabs and oysters, a place for birds to live where they can find food, and overall that provides a beautiful ecosystem for animals and humans alike.
In the 1980s, the Chesapeake Bay Program was created in an attempt to clean up and restore the watershed, which impacts Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, New York, and Pennsylvania. The Chesapeake Bay Program includes smaller groups which take care of different sections and tasks that help restore the Bay or track it’s progress. With all of its efforts since 1983, the Chesapeake Bay Program has already gradually improved the state of major rivers that flow into the Chesapeake Bay.
According to the EcoHealth Report Card of the Chesapeake Bay, in just 2011 water clarity had a score of 6%. In 2016, the score was at 24%, 4 times more than just five years before. While this does show improvement of the bay, this score is only half of what it was in 1986. The Chesapeake Bay Program works toward a goal of having high scores in all of the things that are graded, including aquatic grasses which has a 39%. The Ecohealth Report Card also shows the progress of important nutrients in the bay, such as nitrogen, dissolved oxygen, phosphorus, and chlorophyll. Overall, the score of the bay was at 54% in 2016, which is an improvement by only 1% from 2015. There is still a lot to improve as the lower region of the bay scores the highest, while upper regions like the Patapsco score much lower and are in greater need of help.
In just 2014, the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement was formed which sets five main goals that the program wishes to achieve. The agreement holds the states involved accountable for the restoration of the Bay. The five goals of the Chesapeake Bay Program are abundant life, clean water, climate change, conserved lands, and enhanced communities. Within these five goals are subordinate goals which plan out smaller objectives to be met in order to achieve the overall goal. Accomplishing these goals would allow the species living in the Chesapeake Bay to survive without interference of humans, ensure that the water meets proper safety conditions of the state, and much more that impacts the well-being of the bay and the land around it.
This agreement is backed up by The Clean Water Act which holds the EPA accountable for funding and mandating the Chesapeake Bay Program so that it will eventually achieve and maintain a watershed that is fully healthy and can provide for the states surrounding it. This is all done through the EPA’s funding and some funding from local or state governments or private organizations.
With Trump’s administration in office, the future of the Chesapeake Bay and the progress it has been making could quickly go downhill. The budget cuts Trump is hoping to make would allow for little to no progress and would eventually lead to further destruction of the Bay. The plan Trump has signed and approved of for 2018 would end up destroying the watershed which has been making great strides in the past 34 years in improving to become the beautiful bay it once was. Now, with the minimal care Trump has for the environment, the beauty of our watershed region could crumble.
While the bill Trump signed is unlikely to pass Congress because of the far too drastic cuts on such important organizations such as the EPA and the Department of Education, it is important to watch and take note of the very real threat to the Chesapeake Bay. While the cut of three billion dollars is highly unlikely to take place, Trump doesn’t seem to be willing to fund the EPA at the same rate as it has been for years now. This is likely to mean that the efforts to restore the Chesapeake Bay may be put aside to make room for other responsibilities of the EPA.
Many people are concerned with Trump’s attempts to drastically cut the budget to a plethora of important departments. While the bill is unlikely to pass Congress because of the red flags it raises for the environment, it is still important to recognize that the current president of our nation is looking to ignore our environment and the poor state that it’s in. The Chesapeake Bay’s progress over the last 34 years has been slow but impactful, but this bill would bring a quick end to all the progression of the Bay.