Sine Die Roundup: Progress for the Bay, but Failure for our Climate

For Immediate Release

For Immediate Release: Monday, April 9th, 2012

Contact: Tommy Landers, Director, 301-442-0314, tlanders@environmentmaryland.org

               Meg Cronin, Policy Associate, 516-318-9490, mcronin@environmentmaryland.org

 Progress for the Bay, but Failure for our Climate

 When presented with the opportunities to clean up our waterways, including the Chesapeake Bay, our lawmakers made key steps forwards. However, in considering legislation pushing for clean energy, including a bill incentivizing offshore wind in Maryland, the General Assembly dropped the ball.  This is the second year that offshore wind power legislation has gotten stuck in the Senate Finance Committee.

 “The offshore wind bill was our top energy priority, and legislators couldn’t get it done.  The House did, and the governor championed it all the way.  Kudos to them for that, and many thanks.  But the Senate just couldn’t get it done, and that’s a big, big shame for our future, our air quality, our health, and our economy.

 “We are sucking at the teat of seductively cheap fossil-fuel-based energy sources that are altering our planet, making our weather wacky and dangerous, making our kids sick, putting toxic chemicals into the ground, and helping to kill the Chesapeake Bay.  Marylanders know we need clean energy.  And poll after poll has shown that a majority of us want clean, local offshore wind power.

 “This year’s bill contained numerous measures to protect consumers from rate impacts and to promote Maryland businesses, especially minority-owned businesses.  That’s why scores of business and minority leaders—and many, many other groups of all sorts—put their full weight behind this bill.

 “Certainly a very small number of senators decided the fate of the offshore wind bill.  At the end of the day, all we can ask of our elected officials is to make their concerns known and then negotiate in good faith to find common ground.  This is the kind of brass tax democratic process that I trust will one day bring Maryland to using 100% clean energy.

 “So, this was a tough year for energy and climate policy in the General Assembly.  But it is absolutely essential that Maryland tap into the wind blowing off our Atlantic Coast to power our homes and businesses.  It’s only a matter of time,” said Director Tommy Landers.

 In terms of protecting our waterways, the General Assembly made important progress.

 “Our legislators showed that they are taking Chesapeake Bay cleanup seriously by committing the necessary resources to upgrade our wastewater treatment plants,” said Meg Cronin, Policy Associate with Environment Maryland.

 “The governor and legislators also took a step in the right direction when it comes to reducing the impact on the Bay of septic systems and unwise development decisions.  We look forward to building on this progress,” she added.

 Another bill that would require counties to set up a funding mechanism to install and improve stormwater infrastructure, was still being debated as of 9:00pm Monday.

 “Stormwater is the fastest growing source of pollution to the Chesapeake Bay and is going to worsen as we grow our population and expand our development. Just as legislators took wastewater treatment seriously, they need to seriously face the reality of stormwater pollution.  This year’s bill is absolutely the right thing to do,” said Cronin.

 Legislators also passed a bill that prevents poultry producers from feeding arsenic, a known carcinogen, to their chickens.

 “The longtime practice of adding arsenic to chicken feed deposited a poison into our soils and rivers, while ingesting arsenic-laden chicken has jeopardized our health,” added Cronin.

 ROUNDUP of BILLS as of 9:36pm

 UNKNOWN

 Stormwater Management (SB 614/HB 987)

  • This requires the creation of fees to improve stormwater management at the local level.  Passed the House and Senate EHEA Committee.

 

WINS

 Bay Restoration Fund (SB 240/HB 446)

  • Increases fees paid to the Bay Restoration Fund.  Passed.

 Sustainable Growth/ Septics (SB 236/ HB 445)

  • Requires counties to limit areas where new homes on septic systems can be built.  The amended bill has passed both chambers.

Arsenic Ban (SB 207/HB 167)

  • Ban arsenic-laden additives from use in chicken feed in Maryland.  Passed.

Apartment Building Recycling (SB 208/ HB 1)

  • Apartment buildings with more than ten units will now be required to provide recycling for residents.  Passed.

Energy Disclosure (SB 968/HB 1331)

  • The energy disclosure bill requires that vendors provide energy usage information to residential property owners upon request.  Passed.

 

LOSSES

Offshore Wind (SB 237/HB 441)

  • Would have created an offshore wind energy carve-out in the state’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard.  After passing the House 88-47, the bill is stuck in the Senate Finance Committee.

Safe Drilling Study Fee (SB 798/HB 1204)

  • Places fees on energy companies looking to drill the Marcellus Shale.  The fees would fund research on safe drilling practices.  Passed the House, but not the Senate EHEA Committee.

Community Solar (SB 595/ HB 864)

  • Would have allowed residents to receive energy credits by investing in community solar programs.  Voted unfavorably in the House Economic Matters Committee.

Plastic Bag Fee (HB 1247)

  • Would have required a five cent consumer charge for each disposable plastic bag a store provides.  Reported unfavorably by Economic Matters Committee in House.