US Senator Van Hollen Fights for Maryland in Energy, Water Development Appropriations BillLatest News, U.S./Canada, World News Friday, July 21st, 2017
Photo caption: U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen, member of the Senate Appropriations Committee
(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen, member of the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday voted to support the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies appropriations bill.
It will fund U.S. Department of Energy programs and critical infrastructure projects administered by the Army Corps of Engineers.
“Energy and water infrastructure projects impact every community in Maryland and are vital to our economic success,” said Senator Van Hollen. “From the Chesapeake Bay to the Port of Baltimore to dams and lakes in Western Maryland, this legislation provides tens of millions of dollars for projects in our state. I will keep fighting to advance energy security and economic competitiveness in Maryland and across the country.”
The legislation includes Senator Van Hollen’s amendment on the Chesapeake Bay Oyster Restoration Project, which he worked on with Senator Ben Cardin. It includes specific language expressing the Appropriations Committee’s support of the project and encourages the Army Corps to provide sufficient funding in future budget submissions or the FY 2018 work plan. Oyster populations have declined dramatically, and restoration is important to both restoring the water quality of the Bay and the livelihood of Maryland’s oyster industry.
The bill passed on Thursday rejected deep cuts proposed by the Trump Administration and provided important funding for vital Maryland interests, including:
- $1.94 billion for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (the President’s budget provided $636.149 million)
- $215 million for the Weatherization Assistance Program (the President’s budget eliminated it)
- $50 million for the State Energy Program (the President’s budget eliminated it)
- $5.5 billion for the Office of Science ($1 billion more than the President’s budget request)
- $330 million for Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (the President’s budget eliminated it)
The legislation includes hundreds of millions of dollars for Maryland to fund critical projects, including:
- $25.6 million for Baltimore Harbor and Channels Dredging in Baltimore, Maryland. This will help maintain this vital waterway, which is critical to the operations of the Port of Baltimore.
- $36.3 million for Poplar Island Construction in Talbot County, Maryland. From being on the verge of disappearing, Poplar Island is now a national and international model for habitat restoration. It was restored by using dredged material from the Baltimore Harbor and Channels federal navigation projects.
- $325,000 for Baltimore Harbor Drift Removal in Baltimore, Maryland. The unit operates out of dock facilities at Fort McHenry and collects floating debris that otherwise would be a hazard that would damage vessels and cause cargo loss.
- $200,000 for the Army Corps to work with Baltimore City and Anne Arundel and Baltimore Counties to identify solutions to flood management challenges.
- Important language encouraging the Army Corps to complete its study of the new Mid-Bay Islands project, which will be the new site for dredged material from Baltimore Harbor once Poplar Island is complete. When the Dredged Material Management Plan is approved, the bill encourages the Army Corps to request funding in the budget process or provide it from existing funds.
- $450,000 for Project Condition Surveys in the Army Corps’ Baltimore District, including all of Maryland and Washington, DC, and parts of Virginia and Delaware. The surveys determine the current condition of coastal and inland navigation channels, underwater features, and river or flood control structures to ultimately decide the need for future maintenance activities.
- $196,000 for Inspection of Completed Works under the National Levee Safety Program in the Army Corps’ Baltimore District.
The Baltimore District’s levee safety program activities, which focus on flood risk management, cover all of Maryland and Washington, DC, and parts of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, and New York.
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