Climate Crisis Bill Passes Maryland Legislature

Chesapeake Currents|Online, Summer 2009

The warming up of the planet poses tremendous challenges for the entire world. For America's Atlantic coast, rising sea levels will dramatically affect shorelines, with increasing flooding, droughts and severe storms having devastating consequences for water quality, quantity and residents of the region. Maryland's 3100 miles of coastline make it the fourth most vulnerable state to the coastal effects of climate change.

For decades, Clean Water Action members and staff have been engaged on the state and federal level, knocking on doors and calling communities throughout Maryland to put pressure on politicians to reduce the "greenhouse" gas emissions that are the human- caused source of global warming. Maryland victories have included the Clean Cars Act to reduce vehicle emissions, the Healthy Air Act to cut down on power plant pollution, laws to increase energy efficiency, the mandated increase in the use of renewable energy, and a number of local and state "smart growth" fights to reduce dependency on vehicle miles traveled (automobiles generate roughly 35 % of Maryland's global warming pollution.)

Building upon these victories, Clean Water Action staff in 2008 helped mobilize support for a comprehensive regulatory approach in the form of the Global Warming Solutions Act. That bill passed the State Senate, only to die in the House on the final day of the legislative session. However, environmental groups and the O'Malley administration used the session's efforts and successes to prepare for 2009. During the summer and fall of 2008, Governor O'Malley directed the Maryland Department of the Environment to bring together a group of stakeholders (including Clean Water Action) to develop a strong bill. These stakeholders (including representatives from organized labor, manufacturing and the environment) continually pushed the process forward and drafted a new bill for the 2009 session.

In April, 2009, the Maryland legislature passed the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act which, when enacted it will be among the strongest state climate change laws in the nation. The new law will require that the state create a comprehensive plan by 2011 that will reduce emissions by 25% by 2020, and lay the foundation for reducing the gases by at least 80% by 2050. Implementation of the plan is expected to create a net economic benefit of approximately $2 billion through energy savings and job creation. The 2009 Maryland victory also provides further impetus for national action. Clean Water Action's work in electing members of Congress such as Maryland's Rep. Chris Van Hollen in 2002, who has recently introduced his own global warming bill the Cap and Dividend Act of 2009, and of course President Barack Obama in 2008, has set the stage for passage of national climate change legislation.

 

In this issue of Chesapeake Currents|Online:

Keep Virginia Uranium Mining Ban
Uranium and mining industry lobbying to lift a twenty-five year ban on uranium mining persuaded Clean Water Action and allies to mount a counter-effort that will last at least through the 2009 election year, and likely into the 2010 legislative session. Clean Water Action involvement stepped up following a Virginia state panel vote for a uranium study after a House of Delegates panel had killed a similar proposal during the 2008 session. The renewed prospect of uranium mining was initially generated by Virginia Energy Plan 2007, a plan on meeting future energy needs developed by the administration of Governor Tim Kaine under a General Assembly mandate.

Climate Crisis Bill Passes Maryland Legislature
The warming up of the planet poses tremendous challenges for the entire world. For America's Atlantic coast, rising sea levels will dramatically affect shorelines, with increasing flooding, droughts and severe storms having devastating consequences for water quality, quantity and residents of the region. Maryland's 3100 miles of coastline make it the fourth most vulnerable state to the coastal effects of climate change.

Incinerator Battle Heats Up
In Western Maryland, the Frederick County Board of Commissioners is considering building a solid waste incinerator, and hoping to do so in partnership with Carroll County. During the past few years, over 3,000 Clean Water Action members, staff and allies have been working to persuade the Board to scrap the idea, or at least institute a 5 year moratorium on its construction to study alternative solutions like a Resource Recovery Park for waste diversion and recycling.

For California Woman, Protecting A River Can Cost You A Job
Heather Wylie traded her job for a river. And, given the choice, she'd do it again.

During the summer of 2008, Wylie joined a handful of protestors for a canoe and kayak trip down the LA River, earning the wrath of her employers and the attention of a nation. Why? At the time, Wylie was a biologist with the US Army Corps of Engineers. The agency had just declared the LA River as not navigable--a designation that put the watershed at risk and would have set a.dangerous precedent. Wylie and her compatriots were making their voyage to prove the Army Corps wrong. If their fleet could make the journey, they reasoned, then the LA River must be in-fact navigable, a critical first step in retaining Clean Water Act safeguards for the LA River system.

Restoring the Clean Water Act Must Top Congress' Agenda
Restoring the ability of the Clean Water Act to protect water resources must top Congress' water agenda. Supreme Court and agency decisions put at risk Clean Water Act protections for headwater, intermittent and ephemeral streams that supply drinking water systems that serve more than 110 million Americans. In total, 59 percent of the nation's waterways and millions of acres of wetlands are currently at risk.

What You Won't See In Those 'Clean Coal' Ads: Dirty Air, A Wall of Sludge, Poisoned Rivers
Surely you've seen the ads. They are scattered around the internet and splashed across our newspapers and magazines. Their commercials interrupt our favorite television shows and invade our local radio station's airspace. Yes, the ads are everywhere. But that doesn't make them true.

No PR campaign, no matter how well executed, can make coal clean. It's simply not possible.

Advocates for "clean" coal argue that technology exists-almost-that will allow coal-fired power plants to capture their carbon emissions and store the climate-changing gas deep under ground. Technically, this is true. Realistically, this would be extremely expensive, and wouldn't even begin to address most of the impacts felt by water. From mines to power plants, the process of wresting energy from coal is dirty and unhealthy for our waters, our communities and ourselves.

How Safe is Your Bath Tub?
Children's bubble baths should be clean, safe and fun. But No More Toxic Tub, a report published in March 2009 by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics in partnership with Clean Water Action and other organizations, found contaminants and other hazardous ingredients in numerous popular shampoos, soaps and body care products marketed to babies and children.

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Publication Date: 
04/04/2009