ANS Goes to Capitol Hill!

An image of the U.S. Capitol Building from the bottom of its steps. The sky behind the building's dome is clear and blue.

The U.S. Capitol Building. Home of the Senate and House of Representatives chambers.

On March 4th, ANS joined more than 100 other environmental advocates for the Choose Clean Water Coalition’s 8th annual Chesapeake Bay Day on Capitol Hill. Lisa Alexander, ANS’s Executive Director, is co-chair of the steering committee for the Coalition, which has members from more than 250 organizations throughout the Chesapeake Bay Watershed’s 6 states plus D.C. Every year, this day is a chance for us to talk with our elected officials and ask that the health of the Chesapeake Bay remain a priority for the region.

ANS’s Conservation Team met with the offices of 12 different members of Congress from Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia:

  • Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes-Norton (D-DC)
  • Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton (D-VA)
  • Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA)
  • Senator Mark Warner (D-VA)
  • Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA)
  • Congressman Anthony Brown (D-MD)
  • Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD)
  • Congressman David Trone (D-MD)
  • Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD)
  • Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-MD)
  • Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
  • Congresswoman Elaine Luria (D-VA)

This year, we had 5 specific asks of Congress. Each of these asks directly impacts ANS and the people we serve throughout the DMV:

  1. Funding for the Chesapeake Bay Program: This regional program, a collaboration between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, other federal agencies, states, academic institutions, local governments, and environmental organizations, has been extremely successful in restoring the health of the Chesapeake Bay. We asked for support in increasing funding for the program from $85 million in fiscal year 2020 to $90.5 million in fiscal year 2021. A grant through the Chesapeake Bay Program helped ANS access technical assistance to plan for Woodend Sanctuary’s stream restoration!                                                                                                                                                                  
  2. Funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund: This loan program, run through the EPA, helps fund high-priority water infrastructure projects throughout the country such as wastewater treatment plants or green infrastructure installation. Over 1,700 Chesapeake Bay Watershed local governments rely on this funding for infrastructure projects that help them meet their mandates under the Clean Water Act. We asked for support in doubling the Fund from $1.68 billion in fiscal year 2020 to $3.4 billion in fiscal year 2021. Millions of dollars from the Fund go to Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia each year.
  3. Funding for the Farm Bill: This overarching piece of agriculture and food policy in the U.S. is reconsidered for authorization every 5 years, with the most recent version passed in 2018. It includes funding for many conservation and environmental programs including the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, and Conservation Technical Assistance, while also funding the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps). We highlighted this program’s ongoing value and asked that each of these programs benefiting the Chesapeake Bay Watershed be fully funded for each fiscal year that the Farm Bill authorizes.
  4. Passage of America’s Conservation Enhancement (ACE) Act: We asked members of Congress to help pass this bipartisan legislative package that contains reauthorization and funding for crucial conservation programs. These include reauthorization of the Chesapeake Bay Program, the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Trails Program, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the Chesapeake Watershed Investments for Landscape Defense (WILD) Act.
  5. Reauthorization of NOAA’s Chesapeake Bay Office: This office of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration conducts habitat science, oyster restorations, environmental literacy programs, climate resiliency, and sustainable fisheries work. We asked members of the House of Representatives to reauthorize this office and increase its funding. ANS has received grants from this office’s Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) Program to offer Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEE) to the youth we work with.

Everyone we met with has been a supporter of all these programs for many years. Lobby day is a chance for us to ask for continued support and to thank them for their work to protect the environment for future generations of people and wildlife. We’ll keep you updated on these legislative priorities and their progress in Congress!