Congress passed over the Chesapeake Clean Water Act during the lame duck session, which was folded into a larger bill called the America's Great Outdoors Act. The bill would have given the Environmental Protection Agency greater power monitor and take steps to reduce the Bay's pollution.
Senate leaders could not gather enough votes to prevent a filibuster on the America's Great Outdoors Act.
The Chesapeake Clean Water Act would have put into law many of the bay cleanup actions already under way by the EPA. However, the bill's co-sponsors Senators Benjamin Cardin and Elijah Cummings, both of Maryland, have said they will reintroduce the bill in the next Congress.
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation was a major backer of the bill and lobbied for it.
The region's riverkeepers, however, felt the bill was weakened too much during the Senate committee process.
However, the bill drew strong opposition from farming groups, including the American Farm Bureau Federation. The farm bureau said the Chesapeake Clean Water Act would fundamentally change the way the existing Clean Water Act is enforced.
The bill may have a tougher road to approval the next time around, particularly in the House of Representatives, which is switching to Republican control.
Even with the bill's failure, the Chesapeake Bay cleanup effort is moving ahead. Next week, the EPA will finalize a pollution diet that will limit how much nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment can flow into rivers, streams and the Chesapeake. The goal of the diet is to reduce pollution enough to eventually get the bay off the list of the nation's "impaired waters." States that don't meet their new limits could face federal sanctions.