The past few weeks have brought a wave of changes to our lives. Here at Environment Maryland, we have shifted our work considerably because of the public health crisis, both to respond to the environmental impacts of the crisis and to provide new environmental resources and actions for people to do at home.
The Maryland General Assembly adjourned the 2020 legislative session early with plans to reconvene for a special session in May. This shortened session meant that many bills did not make it to the floor for a vote, including some of our priority environmental legislation, but we are proud of the work we did and the progress Marylanders made together.
After a multi-year effort, the General Assembly passed a ban on chlorpyrifos, a toxic pesticide that is used in agriculture throughout Maryland and across the United States. Chlorpyrifos exposure has been linked to serious impacts on human health and cognitive development. We’re exposed to chlorpyrifos through residues on food, drinking water contamination and toxic drift from pesticide application. Banning chlorpyrifos is the right choice for our pollinators, our planet and our health. Read our testimony in support of the bill here. We are grateful to the Smart on Pesticides Coalition, Delegate Dana Stein, and Senator Clarence Lam for their leadership on the campaign!
Our priority was to pass the Plastic and Packaging Reduction Act (PPRA), a bill to ban single use plastic bags and create a task force on plastic pollution. Nothing we use for 5 minutes should pollute our world for centuries. We know that we must greatly reduce our plastic use to ensure clean air, clean water, healthy wildlife and a livable climate for generations to come and this bill which would have banned plastic bags is a huge step in the right direction.
Environment Maryland co-leads the statewide coalition backing the campaign: we met with dozens of state legislators, testified to support the bill, and delivered over 4,000 petition signatures from our members in support of the ban. The bill passed through the house, but did not receive a vote on the Senate floor before adjournment.
We supported a full agenda of environmental bills this session, including bills to address climate change, support renewable energy, address plastic pollution, reduce exposure to lead in school drinking water, and more.
We are living in extraordinary times, and we will continue our work for clean air, clean water, clean energy, wildlife and open spaces, and a livable climate.
As a small donor funded, grassroots organization, we’re up against tough odds, but through public education, community organizing and political advocacy, we continue to make progress on our most pressing issues. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and sign up for our email list to stay in the loop on all of our work.