Environment Ekes Out Some Wins

For Immediate Release

Brad Heavner, State Director of Environment Maryland, had this to say about the Maryland’s 2010 General Assembly session:

“In the last week, we were ready to declare the Maryland Senate a political dead zone. Senators were on the verge of rejecting funding to restore the Chesapeake Bay, preserve open spaces, and fund energy efficiency programs. At the same time our priorities were stalling in Senate committee rooms—bills to create long-term plans for our transportation and energy needs, provide funding for critical stormwater management projects, and preserve Maryland’s treasured oyster population.

Instead of losing hope, we turned up the heat. We tracked down key legislators and helped recruit hundreds of activists to send emails and make phone calls to Annapolis offices. Our message was simple: what’s bad for the bay, our air, and our land is bad for our economy.

With just a few days left, senators, delegates, and the governor all began reversing course. In the end, the General Assembly added $2.5 million to Gov. O’Malley’s suggested $20 million for the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund. They agreed to preserve most funding for Program Open Space, with help from a strong last minute push by Gov. O’Malley. They moved a bill to create a plan for Maryland’s transportation future. They also passed Gov. O’Malley’s bill to accelerate Maryland’s solar energy production, though the House had significantly weakened the governor’s original proposal.

Unfortunately, legislators also defeated or took a pass on many good policies. For example, when it came to restoring the diverted energy efficiency funding for the year 2012, senators prevailed in extending the existing diversion. Neither chamber passed bills to plan ahead for our energy needs or create a funding stream for much needed stormwater management projects, and last-minute regulations were passed that will weaken upcoming stormwater management standards.

In the end, while legislators made some sound budget decisions, the General Assembly mostly treaded water when it came to cleaning up our waterways, moving to a clean energy economy, or planning ahead for our future.”