MARYLAND LEAGUE OF CONSERVATION VOTERS AND PARTNERS GAIN TRACTION IN 2017 MARYLAND GENERAL ASSEMBLY SESSION
Maryland’s Environment Had A Banner Year
Annapolis, MD – The Maryland General Assembly closed the 2017 session with powerful affirmations of the importance of protecting Maryland’s people and environment. Maryland gained national acclaim by banning hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), as well as limiting the over-use of antibiotics in agriculture.
From our Executive Director, Karla Raettig:
Annapolis, MD- Maryland League of Conservation Voters is proud to stand with the Don’t Frack Maryland coalition in the bipartisan victory in banning hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the state of Maryland today with Governor Hogan’s signature making it law.
I only have one word for the incredible turnout at the Environmental Legislative Summit- W-O-W! This was my eighth summit with Maryland LCV, and I’ve never seen so many Marylanders attending the Environmental Legislative Summit. I can't thank you enough!
Throughout the years, all the progress we’ve made as an environmental community has been because of you. So many people attended, that there were lines to get into the room and into the building. What an incredible force we are, I am so proud to be a member of this community with you.
One of my favorite parts of the evening was Speaker of the House Mike Busch proclaiming, “…No matter what happens in DC,… We are not going to back down one iota on the environment!" Protecting our natural resources is what makes us Marylanders, and I’m grateful to have local leaders who demonstrate my community’s values.
As you may have heard, our Maryland General Assembly voted earlier to override Governor Hogan’s veto of the 2016 Clean Energy Jobs Act. I have no doubt this happened because of you joining your voice with your neighbors and advocating loudly to your legislators. And they LISTENED.
There were over 450 Marylanders that came to the Environmental Summit last week to hear about our other priorities:
- Banning fracking in Maryland
- Limiting the use of antibiotics in livestock for non-therapeutic purposes
- Defending septics regulations
You are the reason we work so hard to ensure a bright, healthy future for all Marylanders. Thank you for standing with me, Maryland League of Conservation Voters, the environmental community, and the natural resources of Maryland.
I look forward to many more successful actions this Session with you,
Dannielle Lipinski, Communications and Outreach Manager
Today we at the Maryland League of Conservation Voters celebrate an early victory this session with one of our major climate bills, The Clean Energy Jobs Act, passing out of the Maryland General Assembly today, despite Governor Hogan’s veto of the bill last session.
We applaud the General Assembly for standing up for Maryland’s clean energy economy and increasing our state’s renewable energy. This bill continues Maryland’s leadership on combatting climate change and reflects what we all know; Maryland voters want action on climate.
We can no longer depend on the national administration to take action against climate change, and action at the state level is more important than ever. We are enthused to have a General Assembly taking up the reins of leadership on climate change.
Today we at Maryland League of Conservation Voters (Maryland LCV) give Governor Hogan a mark of “Needs Improvement” on his first environmental report card, noting that the Governor’s actions don’t always match his words when it comes to prioritizing the environment and public health. With a new President who has promised to rollback federal protections and nominated an environmental cabinet that denies climate change, the organization looks to Governor Hogan to show that conservation is not a partisan concern and that supporting public health and protecting natural treasures are good for business.
From the desk of Karla Raettig, Executive Director:
On January 11th in Annapolis, our legislators will reconvene in the state house at 12:00 pm. As they take their seats, the clock will start ticking on our 90 day legislative session and our opportunity opens to pass some great environmental laws.
In conjunction with the statewide Maryland Climate Coalition and legislative champions in both the Senate and House of Delegates, we are working to override Governor Hogan’s veto of the Clean Energy Jobs Act, a bill ensuring that Maryland gets 25% of its electricity from renewable energy sources like wind and solar by 2020. Additionally, we have prioritized banning hydraulic fracturing in the state, a practice that has been linked to disastrous water and air pollution along with serious public health hazards.
We are also lending our support to limiting the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in livestock to stop the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria. These bacteria sicken millions of Americans every year and kill tens of thousands. We will also be working on banning Styrofoam statewide. This would be mean no establishment or institution can serve on Styrofoam materials, including restaurants and bans the sale Styrofoam containers or packaging peanuts.
We additionally join with our partners to protect smart growth policies related to septics regulations in reaction to the Governor’s statement this summer on rolling back on Chesapeake Bay restoration.
Related to all environmental legislation, Maryland LCV will be defending the budget for environmental agencies and enforcement of current environmental laws.
The truth is that we need you now more than ever. With the federal political climate, we must take a stand to defend the progress we’ve made here in Maryland. Make sure you stay tuned to your inbox for upcoming action alerts and updates from this legislative session.
We need to hold strong as a community and make sure that the great progress we’ve made continues into the future. Thank you for standing with me and the future of our beautiful state,
Maryland League of Conservation Voters
In the week following the election, one thing has become clear: There has never been a more important time to be working to protect strong environmental policies. It has been heartening to have so many people around me looking for ways to be more active in communicating with their elected representatives. This advice comes both from my experience as a lobbyist for Maryland LCV, but also my years as a legislative staffer. I’ve been on both sides of the desk, and this is what I’ve learned.
Go ahead. Try it at home.
We were all surprised night. Many of us were left wondering- where do we go from here?
I am concerned about potential rollbacks of the progress we have made on so many environmental issues but I am encouraged by the good that came out of this election. In Maryland, I am proud to work alongside a dedicated staff, board of directors, and coalition of environmental groups who will keep fighting climate change, restoring the Chesapeake Bay and waterways, and protecting our natural legacy for future generations.
Some good news here in Maryland:
- Voters in Howard County took a stand for democracy by passing Question A, which will create a Citizens Election Fund to elevate everyday voters in our county elections. This ballot measure will help tear down barriers to running for office and ensure Howard County residents always have the access to their elected officials that they deserve. But this is bigger than just one county. Our nations ineffective campaign finance laws have long been a topic of local and national discussion. At Maryland LCV, we feel that we can never make true progress on the environment until we get big money out of politics. night was a big step in the right direction and we are proud to have played a role in organizing the campaign.
With your help, we also endorsed candidates for Baltimore City Council this year and did pro-environment mail in Baltimore City, supporting a message of clean water and air for all Marylanders regardless of where you live. We believe in environmental justice for everyone and we are proud to be working on this issue every day through the Latino community organizing we do with our Chispa Maryland program. And voters sent climate champions to Congress to fight for our future.
We should all be proud of the work we did individually and collectively to make progress in Maryland and regionally this election cycle. We will take lessons learned and come back even stronger to elect climate champions at every level of government in 2018.
You can bet that we will also continue working hard to hold our elected officials accountable and we'll need your continued support every step of the way. In the coming months, we'll be asking you to do your part by calling, emailing, and meeting with your legislators as we work to bring clean energy to Maryland, protect Maryland from the harmful impacts of fracking, and protect our waterways and open spaces.
States, particularly Maryland, have an opportunity and an obligation to continue demonstrating what environmental values look like and why it’s imperative we move forward together on addressing climate change – still the biggest threat to future generations.
Heartfelt thanks to all of you.
Karla Raettig, Executive Director Maryland LCV
This evening marks Maryland LCV’s 16th annual Environmental Leadership Awards. Tonight’s honorees have demonstrated that the best way to empower everyday citizens is to build greener, more sustainable communities throughout Maryland. Likewise, the best way to restore power to voters in our elections is to get money out, and the solution for Howard County is Question A.
Question A is a microcosm the for public campaign funding movement swelling throughout the country. Led by Howard County Councilmember sponsors Jen Terrasa and Jon Weinstein, Howard County Council sent the proposed amendment to the county charter to the ballot last March. If Question A passes on November 8th, The Citizens' Election Fund would become the second public campaign funding system for local elections in the state of Maryland and the first in the country to appear on the ballot all by itself.
We all can agree that elected officials are more accountable to the interests of voters when they are not beholding to corporate and big dollar campaign donors. Maryland LCV believes that protecting the environment means increasing government responsiveness to the concerns of voters, especially at the local level. That is why Maryland LCV is fully invested in scoring a win in Howard County this fall (#HoCoYesOnA) and building capacity for Howard County electeds to lead on the environment, just like the honorees of the 2016 Environmental Leadership Awards.
My day-to-day world as an environmental lobbyist tends to be very small: meetings, conference calls, legislator visits, policy research, and data entry and analysis, most of which happen between our Maryland Avenue office and the legislative campus just two blocks away. On October 5th, however, I had the opportunity as a representative of the Maryland Climate Coalition and the Political Director of Maryland LCV, to join a small delegation of legislators and other stakeholders to visit the off-shore wind project off the coast of Rhode Island. It was a whirlwind (pun intended) tour of the first off-shore wind project on the East Coast, showcasing the extraordinary power of off-shore wind, the cutting-edge technology, as well as the beauty of the turbines in action.
After being met at the airport by a representative of the Maryland Business Network for Off-Shore Wind, the delegation – which included Senator Kathy Klausmeier (D8-Baltimore County), Delegate Tawanna Gaines (D22-Prince George’s County), and Delegate Sally Jameson (D28-Charles County), as well as representatives from the Town Creek and Abell Foundations – joined scientists, industry representatives, government agency staff, and environmentalists on a small touring boat as it charged through active seas out to the newly completed turbines.
You can see from the pictures that the weather was variable, ranging from clear blue skies to more blustery and ominous cloud cover. Many of us found the experience of facing the wind and the rough sea to be a challenge, but it was clear that the turbines were perfectly designed for the elements. Although the project experts gave us a great deal of detail about each of the elements of construction, I think that many of us were somewhat caught off guard by the sheer size, as well as the beauty - of what we were looking at.