Prior to the Chesapeake Bay Program, the largest bay in the country was so polluted and disease-ridden that oysters, seagrass beds, and blue crabs declined in alarming numbers, threatening the economy of the region and wreaking havoc on ecosystems. Since the creation of the program in 1983, the conditions in the bay have been slowly, but surely, improving. The HELP for Wildlife Act (S. 1514), which passed out of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public by a vote of 14-7, is a comprehensive (though controversial) recreational hunting and conservation bill that reauthorizes the Chesapeake Bay Program.
Tagged: Coastal Management
Only 31 years ago, fleets from foreign countries could fish as close as 12 nautical miles to the United States shoreline. Fish populations were severely depleted, impacting livelihoods for fishers and threatening biodiversity. As a result, Congress passed the bipartisan Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA). This law extends U.S. jurisdiction to 200 nautical miles, uses science-based management to rebuild stocks and prevent overfishing, and ensures an economically sustainable yield via quotas and annual catch limits. The 1976 law created eight regional fishery management councils and has been updated twice, once in 1996 and again in 2007. Thanks to these efforts, U.S. fish populations are rebuilding, and now, 90 percent of fisheries fall below their annual catch limits. Last week, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans held a hearing to discuss areas for improvement to consider upon reauthorization. Both sides of the aisle praised the successes of the law and conceded need for change but had different ideas for what those alterations might be.
The nation’s water infrastructure is in a truly dire state; with a D+ grade from the American Society of Civil Engineers, it is time for an update. Last week, the House and Senate held hearings to address this issue. The House Transportation Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment focused on the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps). Chairman Garret Graves (LA-6) said the Corps has an “absolutely critical mission,” which centers around building and maintaining infrastructure that bolsters the economy while integrating environmental sustainability. However, both sides of the aisle were concerned with the Corps’ backlog of unfinished projects and lack of implementation guidance for the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 (P.L.113-121) and the Water Resources Development Act of 2016.
Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed their Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill by a margin of 30-1. The Senate bill, which passed out of the Energy and Water subcommittee earlier in the week, clocks in at $629 million above the FY 2017 enacted level and a staggering $4.1 billion above President Trump’s request. The $38.4 billion bill, which prioritizes energy security and nuclear capabilities, funds Department of Energy (DOE) programs (including energy development and research) and Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) infrastructure projects.
On Wednesday, the House Appropriations committee approved the Interior and Environment appropriations bill for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 in a 30-21 vote. This budget represents an $824 million decrease from the FY 2017 enacted level, which Subcommittee Ranking Member Betty McCollum (MN-4) said she was “deeply disappointed” about, although the president’s budget request would have provided $4.3 billion less. The bill’s $31.4 billion includes $114.2 million for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (matching the president’s request), $108.5 million for the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (a more than 30 percent increase from FY 2017), and $1.039 billion for the U.S. Geological Survey ($46 million less than the FY 2017 level).
After much debate, five flood insurance bills were approved (three with bipartisan support) on Wednesday afternoon at a markup held by the House Financial Services Committee. The bills are part of a package to reauthorize and reform the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which is $24.6 billion in debt and whose current authorization expires September 30. While Republicans and Democrats on the committee have a shared goal of reducing this debt, Democrats withheld support for some of the bills over concerns that the they would raise premiums for policyholders and leave citizens uninsured.
Ocean territories surrounding the United States cover 3.4 million square nautical miles – more than the entire land area of all 50 states. The Department of the Interior (DOI) has the literally enormous responsibility of “support[ing] stewardship and collaborative conservation and management” of these ocean, Great Lakes, and coastal resources. DOI Secretary Ryan Zinke defended the president’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 at a series of hearings this week before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, and the House Natural Resources Committee.
Imagine a trip to the Chesapeake Bay without feasting on their iconic oysters. In recent years, wild oyster populations have been devastated by factors both manmade and natural. Although wild-caught oysters face restoration issues, aquaculture (which is essentially seafood farming) is a growing industry providing shellfish to the market. After success in the Chesapeake region, entrepreneurs around the country have jumped on board over the past three decades to begin their own aquaculture businesses raising oysters, fish, and even seaweed.
When most people enter a hiking trail with several days’ worth of food, they’re at the start of a camping adventure. For residents of Big Sur, California, they’re making one of many weekly trips back from the grocery store. Four months ago, a mudslide collapsed a bridge, making the small hiking path the only access to the outside world for much of Big Sur.
After a recent series of severe storms over several years resulted in $24.6 billion of debt, Democrats and Republicans agreed that the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) could be improved before reauthorization. They disagreed, however, on how to make that happen.