Less Shelter from the Storm

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Morgan Folger

Former Director, Destination: Zero Carbon, Environment America

Budget proposal risks Maryland communities’ safety

Environment Maryland

After Hurricanes Harvey and Irma pummeled our coasts, Environment Maryland warned that pending budget proposals from the Trump administration and Congress threaten key programs that protect our communities from storm-related impacts. The group documented threats to programs that prevent or curb flooding, sewage overflows, and leaks from toxic waste sites. Environment Maryland also called for preventing more global warming fueled extreme weather in the future.

“These devastating hurricanes and recent flooding in Maryland should teach us a lesson: we need a budget that gives Maryland shelter from the storms in the future,” said Morgan Folger, Global Warming Associate, from Environment Maryland. “Rather than protecting our most vulnerable communities, budget proposals on the table in Washington, D.C. threaten coastal resiliency, remove protections for flood-absorbing wetlands, neglect funding for stormwater and sewage treatment, and expose more Americans to toxic chemicals.”

Environment Maryland’s analysis found:

  • Wetlands are at risk because of proposals by the Trump administration and some in Congress. Wetlands are nature’s flood control, and here in Maryland we have 425,000 acres of wetlands. The Trump administration is working to block the Clean Water Rule, leaving flood-absorbing wetlands more vulnerable to pollution and degradation. The House spending bills also include several harmful legislative “riders,” including one that targets the Clean Water Rule, which protects flood-absorbing wetlands.
  • The Clean Water State Revolving Fund provided $32.3 million in 2016 for Maryland to repair and build stormwater and sewage treatment infrastructure. Nationwide, our wastewater systems face a $271 billion backlog, yet the House and President’s spending bills fail to provide proper funding to this critical program.
  • Maryland receives $1.3 million in grants that allow our communities to protect their coasts from storms and rising seas. These funds would be cut or eliminated under both the House and Trump administration’s budgets.

U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), a champion for clean water and the Chesapeake Bay, echoed the concerns raised by Environment Maryland:

“Climate change is increasing the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events – hurricanes, flooding, runoff into the rivers and streams that lead to the Bay. But the President’s cuts to the budget to clean up the Bay make Maryland even more vulnerable to these threats. Compounding that is the Administration’s insistence on rewriting the Clean Water Rule, which protects the entire Bay watershed and the drinking water of 1 in 3 Americans. We can stop both the elimination of funding for the cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay and the gutting of the Clean Water Act, but only with the public’s help.”

Maryland has experienced frequent flooding ranging from downtown Annapolis to Ellicott City.

“We need to do everything we can to protect our wetlands that keep the flood waters at bay, but Trump and some in Congress want to allow polluters to dump, drain, and develop our wetlands,” Folger added. “We thank Senator Cardin for protecting Marylanders and supporting a budget that puts our families’ health and community’s safety first, one that will give Marylanders more shelter from the storms ahead.”

staff | TPIN

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