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Annapolis, MD--In the first session of a 4 year term which saw 68 new legislators and a new Republican Governor, Clean Water Action successfully advanced protections for the state’s water resources and the health of its communities.
The 2015 session began with bills to repeal the 2012 Watershed Protection and Restoration Act, the state moving to permit fracking in western Maryland, and the withdrawal of phosphorous management regulations by the recently elected Governor. Years of environmental policy and advocacy work for water resource protections and programs appeared to be under siege.
The volume of crude oil carried by rail increased 423% between 2011 and 2012 and continued to increase in 2013, surpassing 400,000 rail carloads. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) acknowledged the imminent danger crude-by-rail poses. However, as crude-by-rail traffic has increased, so have accidents, posing significant risks to life, property and the environment. A recent derailment in Lynchburg, VA, spilled and burned an estimated 50,000 gallons of crude, setting the James River on fire, occurred at 23mph[i].
It’s the last few days of session and legislation to protect stormwater funding programs for communities hangs in the balance. With your help, we were able to pass a vastly improved stormwater funding bill (SB863) out of the Senate a few weeks ago. However, opponents have been able to gain momentum in the House to undo some of those changes.
In 1983, 1987 and 2000, Maryland Governors and their counterparts in Virginia, the District of Columbia and other jurisdictions in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed signed formal agreements that set timelines for cleaning up the Bay. The most recent agreement called for deadlines that were to be met by 2010. That deadline will not be met. Clean Water Action supported the strongest possible version of this latest agreement, understanding that we would continue fighting for the enforcement of the Clean Water Act as the likeliest means restoring the Bay.