With Maryland’s legislative session underway, the state-wide environmental advocacy group Environment Maryland released its 2012 legislative agenda today.
“We know that Marylanders want clean energy, clean air and a restored Chesapeake Bay” said Ewa Krason, Field Organizer for Environment Maryland. “That’s why we’ll be advocating in Annapolis for the state’s first offshore wind farm, stronger standards for chicken manure pollution in the Bay and a number of other policies that will put Maryland on track to a clean energy economy and a sustainable future for our children.”
The full agenda outlines the Environment Maryland’s plans to restore the Chesapeake Bay, repower Maryland with clean energy, reduce global warming pollution, protect the state from natural gas drilling, preserve Maryland’s open spaces, and improve Marylanders’ quality of life. Click here to read the full agenda.
Environment Maryland’s 2012 Legislative Agenda
Restore the Chesapeake Bay
The Chesapeake Bay is arguably Maryland’s most precious natural resource and an important part of America’s natural heritage. Unfortunately, the Bay has suffered decades of degradation. Every summer, pollution from urban and farmland runoff, outdated sewage systems and septic systems overwhelms the Bay and creates vast dead zones where nothing can survive. State decision makers should adopt a number of specific, concrete policies to restore clean water. Environment Maryland supports:
- Adopting common sense standards for managing manure and sludge use on farms, and in particular prohibiting land application of manure or sludge on fields whose phosphorus levels are over a science-based maximum threshold, above which water quality will likely be damaged.
- Establishing stricter rules for the construction of new homes on septic systems, to limit water pollution from outdated or failing systems.
- Fully funding the Chesapeake Bay Trust Fund to provide incentives for practices that reduce pollution into the Bay.
- Increasing state funding to complete wastewater treatment plant upgrades by raising the Bay Restoration Fee, and ensuring that local municipalities have resources to construct stormwater management systems sufficient to preserve urban waterways and prevent pollution from flowing downstream into the Bay.
Repower Maryland with clean energy
Clean, efficient energy consumption will help reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and limit the impact of global warming on Maryland. At the same time, we will revitalize Maryland’s economy by saving money through reduced energy usage and by increasing jobs through developing clean energy industries in the state. Environment Maryland supports:
- Adopting policies to effectively incentivize the construction of Maryland’s first offshore wind farm, such as establishing an offshore wind “carve-out” in the state’s renewable portfolio standard. By tapping this tremendous resource, Maryland could one day power 1 million homes with clean, pollution-free energy.
- Increasing Maryland’s solar power production by allowing Marylanders to earn credit on their home electricity bills when they invest in a community solar project on a local warehouse, house of worship or other facility.
- Requiring disclosure of building energy use at time of sale, to help create a market force behind more efficient buildings, both residential and commercial.
- Putting Maryland on the path to get off oil by establishing statewide goals to reduce oil consumption and a creating a comprehensive plan to achieve those reductions through investments in advanced vehicle technology, better funding for public transportation, and smarter land use decisions.
Reduce global warming pollution
Global warming is a profound issue already impacting Maryland’s air quality, waterways, and most valuable natural areas. If Maryland, the United States and the world continue to emit large amounts of global warming pollution, the state will likely face further, dramatic impacts. To prevent the worst impacts of global warming, Environment Maryland supports:
- Crafting and implementing a comprehensive plan to reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent below 2006 levels by 2020, as required by the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reductions Act of 2009.
- Strengthening the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) by ensuring that it reduces emissions by at least 10 percent from current levels by 2020, and that revenues are invested in programs to promote energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Protect Maryland from natural gas drilling
Gas drilling poses a number of threats to our water, air, and land. The increasingly common practice of combining horizontal drilling with hydraulic fracturing (aka “fracking”) is making gas drilling viable in more and more places, but it is also creating greater harm to the environment and our health. In neighboring Pennsylvania, where fracking is prevalent, it is already leading to rolling disasters. Environment Maryland supports:
- Banning fracking in Maryland, to prevent it from damaging our precious land, water and open spaces.
- Prohibiting the processing or transportation of fracking wastewater in Maryland.
Preserve open spaces
Future growth in Maryland should ensure that our precious open spaces, parks and waterways are protected. That means focusing growth in our cities, core suburbs, rural towns and transit hubs and investing in public transit and fix-it-first transportation projects, and reducing our overall oil consumption. Environment Maryland supports:
- Promoting local, sustainable farming that is better for our land and water by expanding opportunities for sustainable farmers in Maryland to sell their products, specifically by strengthening the state’s Farm to School Program.
- Fully funding Program Open Space so the state can continue protecting our most valued natural treasures.
- Ensuring that any additional funding for transportation be prioritized towards fix-it-first projects and public transit.
Improve Marylanders’ quality of life
State leaders should protect our land and water from plastic bag or toxic chemical pollution, and Maryland should also strengthen recycling requirements to minimize solid waste. Environment Maryland supports:
- Reducing plastic bag litter in Maryland waterways by creating a fee on single-use bags, thereby promoting the use of reusable bags.
- Requiring farmers and lawn care companies to report the quantities of pesticides and fertilizers that they use.
- Banning arsenic-laden additives in chicken feed used or sold in Maryland, to prevent arsenic from polluting waterways.