Screenshot of the front page of the Bay Journal, showing its 6 March 2017 story, 'Trump budget plan would slam Bay', describing how the Chesapeake Bay Program and other federal initiatives that could impact the Bay have been targeted for steep cuts in preliminary Trump administration budget plans. Graphic: Bay Journal

By Dino Grandoni
6 September 2017

(The Washington Post) – For nearly three decades, the Environmental Protection Agency has funded the Bay Journal, a publication with a print circulation of 50,000 focused on covering environmental issues in the Chesapeake Bay.

Since its inception in 1991, and through four presidential administrations, the EPA financially backed the monthly newspaper — until last month when, without warning, the agency cut off the Bay Journal’s funding. 

"If this brings about the demise of the Bay Journal, it will be a devastating loss," said Will Baker, president of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

The cancellation of the $325,000 grant to the Bay Journal may just be one small piece of EPA chief Scott Pruitt’s “back-to-basics” effort to reorient the agency toward its bare-bones, statutory responsibilities. But some Chesapeake Bay environmentalists note the decision comes shortly off the heels of the Bay Journal’s scrutinizing coverage of President Trump’s environmental priorities.

It “seems suspicious to me that the Trump administration announced this cut after the Bay Journal reported, accurately, on how the administration’s elimination of all federal funding for the Chesapeake Bay Program would be devastating to the bay,” said Tom Pelton, director of communications for the Environmental Integrity Project and host of a radio show on Baltimore’s WYPR about environmental issues in Maryland.

"I could see that that would be threatening," Betsy Nicholas, executive director of Waterkeepers Chesapeake, said of the Bay Journal's coverage, noting that she couldn't be sure why funding was cut. She added the loss of the grant "took everybody as a surprise."

In late June, the Bay Journal wrote a story on the “wide and deep swath” the White House’s proposed budget would cut through Chesapeake Bay-related environmental initiatives, including most notably the Chesapeake Bay Program, a regional partnership meant to restore water quality in the bay that the Trump administration proposed to eliminate.

The proposed cuts, the article said, would “delay key environmental initiatives, end important research and spur experienced workers to leave their jobs.” And the loss of the Chesapeake Bay Program could “dramatically set back cleanup efforts.”

Another article, from March, that described Trump's proposed budget cuts as "steep" and "massive" was titled "Trump budget plan would slam Bay." [more]

The Energy 202: EPA cuts funding to newspaper reporting on it

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