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Activists and elected officials are teaming-up to host a “Save the Bay’ rally in Williamsburg Saturday to protest a proposed slashing of all federal funding designated for clean-up programs at the Chesapeake Bay and its estuaries.
The $73 million budget allocation slated to be cut under President Trump’s proposed federal budget for fiscal year 2018, originally comes from the Environmental Protection Agency’s discretionary funding. The funding has help support the bay’s cleanup efforts for 45 years.
Organizers hope the rally, which will take place 10 a.m., at College Landing Park, will stir up public awareness and unite the community about preserving its very valuable resource.
“The Chesapeake Bay is the lifeblood of the peninsula,” said Del. Mike Mullin (D-93), who found the proposed cuts very disappointing. “We need to be able to make sure an economic engine like that, an environmental engine like that is protected for generations to come.”
Event organizers include Mullin (D-93), Sen. Monty Mason (D-1), the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Virginia Conservation Network, and the James River Association.
Sen. Mason, a member of the Senate Agriculture, Conservation, and Natural Resources committee, said in general he doesn’t feel it’s his place as a state lawmaker to protest against the administration’s budget proposal.
Earlier in March the initial federal budget proposal called for cutting the Chesapeake funding by 93.2 percent or $68 million, according to Mason. However, on Thursday that number changed to zero funding. The clean-up programs are crucial to the Virginia peninsula, he said.
“It just shows it’s not a priority for this administration. We have to prove them why it should be a priority for every Virginian and every American,” he said.
Funding from the EPA for the Chesapeake Bay began in 1983 when federal agencies entered into an agreement with states bordering the bay. However, clean-up efforts began as early as 1972 with the federal Clean Water Act, according to the Chesapeake Bay Program website.
“Right now we’ve had a zero-ing out of all the budget the federal government would be putting toward the Chesapeake Bay cleanup,” Mullin said. “We’ve just started over the last few years to really make the progress we’d been hoping for in the last three and four decades.“