EPA cuts funding for Chesapeake Bay Journal, threatening publication's future

The Trump administration has cut a grant funding the Chesapeake Bay Journal, threatening the future of the publication that covers environmental issues across the estuary’s watershed.

Editor Karl Blankenship said the organization is “disappointed that political appointees in the EPA have made an unprecedented decision to cut short a multi-year grant to the Bay Journal with no clear explanation.”

The Bay Journal has enough funding to continue publishing into early 2018. Beyond that, Blankenship said, the publication’s leaders “will be exploring next steps regarding the EPA funding, as well as other potential funding sources.”

Staff said the publication was expecting to receive $325,000 from the EPA come Feb. 1, and slightly less than that each year through 2021. The grant makes up about a third of the Bay Journal’s budget, they said.

EPA grant records show the agency has awarded the publication $327,000 annually in recent years. That represented about 40 percent of the $795,000 in grants and contributions the Bay Journal reported receiving in 2015, according to tax documents.

The 27-year-old publication closely tracks developments in the health of the Chesapeake and efforts across the six states in the bay watershed to reduce pollution. It receives funding from the EPA through the agency’s Annapolis-based Chesapeake Bay Program, serving as part of that office’s education and outreach efforts.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation President William C. Baker called the EPA’s decision “a transparent attempt to shut down the free exchange of scientifically validated Bay information.” He accused EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt of showing “his true anti-environmental colors” in cutting the grant.

EPA officials could not be reached for comment.

Baker called on Gov. Larry Hogan, who was recently named chairman of the bay program’s executive council, to demand that Pruitt reinstate the grant.

Asked if Hogan would do so, spokeswoman Amelia Chasse said “the governor has consistently opposed cuts to federal funding for Bay restoration efforts.”



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