Environmental Coalition Identifies Priorities for 2018 General Assembly

CCEEnvironmental organizations in The Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE) will support four topics for potential legislation in the 2018 Maryland General Assembly. LWVMD 2018 Priorities for “Protecting the Environment” are mitigating climate change, increasing the use of clean renewable energy, and ensuring safe water and clean waterways. We’ll be joining efforts to advance the CCE priority topics. Contact Betsy Singer, LWVMD Environment Chair if you would like to participate.

Forest Conservation

According to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), “The Forest Conservation Act is not currently living up to its primary objectives of minimizing forest loss and conserving the state’s best forests when it comes to intact, fully forested parcels proposed for development.” CBF finds that the Act should be updated by prioritizing protection of contiguous forests that provide intact forest ecosystems and are very limited in urban and suburban communities. Replanting formulas would be adjusted in order to lessen overall deforestation and existing mitigation systems, such as forest banking, will be improved.

Polystyrene Foam Food Packaging Ban

Trash Free Maryland, Blue Water Baltimore, and Maryland Sierra Club are supporting a policy that would prohibit a food service business or person from selling polystyrene (Styrofoam) products or selling food in these products in Maryland. They would also prohibit selling expanded polystyrene loose fill packaging. According to the groups, styrene is a probable carcinogen that is released more readily under heat and leaches into food through foam containers. The EPA estimates that 100% of Americans have styrene in their bodies. It never fully degrades and breaks up into tiny pieces that end up in our streets and waterways. Once in the water, polystyrene absorbs ten times more fertilizers, pesticides, and other petrochemicals than other plastics. When fish ingest the styrene and people eat the fish, they can be exposed to more toxic chemicals. Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties have enacted policies to ban polystyrene, and Baltimore City has introduced similar legislation.

Transparency at the Public Service Commission

MDEHNThe Maryland Environmental Health Network (MDEHN) is concerned that often community members do not get timely public notice from easily accessed sources when applications for projects in sensitive areas and neighborhoods come to the Maryland Public Service Commission. While the Public Service Commission has the authority to require additional protections such as a health impact assessment or environmental justice review, it often doesn’t. Examples are the Cove Point liquefaction and export facility, gas fired plants in Brandywine, the proposed compressor station in Charles County and along the Potomac Pipeline.

LWVUS has a strong position on public participation in the responsible management of natural resources to include the public’s right to know about pollution levels and dangers to health and the environment.

MDEHN is proposing a policy that would address the impacts of environmental degradation on already overburdened communities; address the disproportionate impact to a specific region or demographic; and increase community participation in the environmental decision-making process.

2018 Clean Energy Jobs Initiative

Considering the seriousness of the need to transition away from fossil fuel-generated carbon emissions, the Maryland League of Conservation Voters and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network are supporting a policy that would increase the renewable electricity standard to 50 percent by 2030. In 2016, the General Assembly passed the Clean Energy Jobs Act that calls for a 25 percent renewable electricity standard by 2020.

The policy also includes a solar carve-out expansion to 14.5 percent; expanding the Tier 1 to 35.5 percent of the portfolio; phase out of incineration as a Tier 1 source; provisions to protect low-income ratepayers; provisions for investing in workforce development in the renewable energy industry and supporting “Made in America” products; providing funds for investment capital and loans for clean energy business owned by women and minorities; and a study to see how Maryland would reach a goal of 100 percent renewable energy.

The League of Women Voters is also a member of the Maryland Climate Coalition, which has endorsed this issue as a priority as well.

Betsy Singer,
LWVMD Environmental Chair
bsinger@lwvmd.org

 

Annual Maryland Environmental Legislative Summit

 

Thursday, January 18, 2018
Miller Senate Office Building
11 Bladen Street, Annapolis MD
Open to All – Free Admission
4 pm to 6pm

Keynote Speaker:
Bob Perciasepe, former Secretary, Maryland
Department of the Environment, and Deputy Administrator of EPA

NEW - Advocacy Workshops 12 pm to 3 pm
Topics such as Chesapeake Bay, Agriculture, Climate Change, Open Government, Renewable Energy, Environmental Health