Kiggans, Sarbanes, Scott, Wittman Lead Bipartisan House Effort to Improve Chesapeake Bay Care

Jul 20, 2023

WASHINGTON, DC: Today, Congresswoman Jen Kiggans (VA-02), Congressman John Sarbanes (MD-03), Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03), and Congressman Rob Wittman (VA-01) reintroduced the Chesapeake Bay Science, Education and Ecosystem Enhancement (SEEE) Act, a bipartisan bill to restore the health of the Bay Watershed, strengthen fisheries management, and expand environmental education programs for residents across the Watershed.

“As Coastal Virginians, the Chesapeake Bay is an invaluable part of our everyday lives,” said Congresswoman Kiggans. “From our vibrant aquaculture to our bustling tourism industry, our Commonwealth relies so much on the Bay. I’m proud to join my colleagues to introduce this legislation which will ensure we continue to take care of the coastal waterways that take care of us!” 

“This bipartisan effort will help support the critical work of NOAA’s Chesapeake Bay Office (NCBO),” said Congressman Sarbanes, Co-Chair of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Task Force. “The SEEE Act builds on successful, established Bay protection programs that invest in federal, state and local partnerships to safeguard ecosystems, promote sustainability, bolster climate resiliency and increase access to environmental education and stewardship opportunities. I was pleased to see this legislation pass out of the House Committee on Natural Resources in the 117th Congress and will work hard to deliver it to President Biden’s desk in the 118th Congress.”

“I am proud to support the SEEE Act and NOAA’s ongoing work to restore the Chesapeake Bay. This legislation will support sustainable fisheries, habitat restoration and climate resilience work throughout the watershed, and the bill will also provide engaging and educational Chesapeake Bay experiences for our youth,” said Congressman Scott.

“The Chesapeake Bay is integral to our way of life in Virginia’s 1st District and conserving our coastal and marine ecosystems has remained one of my top priorities,” said Congressman Rob Wittman, Co-Chair of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Task Force. “I am proud to join my colleagues in this effort to expand environmental education opportunities, boost state and local restoration efforts and provide NOAA with the resources it needs to protect this national treasure.”

“NOAA’s Chesapeake Bay Office is a key partner, conducting research and protecting marine resources, like oysters and blue crabs, in the Bay and its waterways. NOAA also funds opportunities to educate the next generation of Bay savers by getting them out into the Watershed. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) salutes Reps. Sarbanes, Scott, Wittman and Kiggans for their bipartisan efforts to ensure the Office and NOAA’s educational opportunities get the additional funds they need to carry out their vital work,” said Keisha Sedlacek, CBF Federal Director. “We urge the House Natural Resources Committee to consider this important legislation as soon as possible.”

“We are thrilled to see the reintroduction of the SEEE Act. NOAA’s Chesapeake Bay Office is a crucial partner in the fight to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers and streams,” said Mariah Davis, Choose Clean Water Coalition Acting Director. “This legislation provides much-needed funding and directives to improve NCBO’s efficiency and capacity. With this support, NCBO can improve its monitoring and observation of restoration activities, award critical environmental education grants throughout the Bay Watershed and coordinate various habitat work in the Chesapeake, including on oyster research and restoration.

“As we work toward a healthier Chesapeake Bay, NOAA’s scientific expertise is critically needed for the Bay’s wildlife, the people who live in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and those who depend on the bay for their livelihood,” said Joel Dunn, President & CEO, Chesapeake Conservancy. “We thank Representatives John Sarbanes, Bobby Scott, Rob Wittman and Jen Kiggans for their leadership and investment in the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office.”

Key provisions of the Chesapeake Bay SEEE Act include:

  • Reauthorizing the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office, which has been a leading partner in the Bay restoration effort and to the fishery community;
  • Directing NOAA to support coordinated management, protection, characterization and restoration of Bay habitats and living resources;
  • Authorizing the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) program to help connect residents to the Bay; and
  • Providing critical resources for the NCBO to fulfill its mission and enhance the Chesapeake Bay region.

The Chesapeake Bay Science, Education and Ecosystem Enhancement Act is endorsed by the Chesapeake Bay Commission, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Chesapeake Conservancy and the Choose Clean Water Coalition.

The Senate companion legislation, led by Senator Mark Warner (D-Va), is expected to be introduced in the coming weeks.

More information about the bill is available here.


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