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What the elections mean for Maryland’s environment

What the elections mean for Maryland’s environment

A Note from Executive Director, Kim Coble

It’s been an incredibly stressful couple of weeks in an even more difficult year, and I’m sure that you, like me, are suffering from a bit of whiplash from constant barrage of election news.  

Free and fair elections are the bedrock of our democracy. In any election, every vote must be counted, without interference or intimidation. Because voter suppression persists, we especially need to ensure all voices are recognized, particularly those from poor and marginalized communities. We are encouraged that, in Maryland, the election went smoothly and with record turnout.

The wheels that power our democracy never stopped turning. Workers in polling places across the country kept counting ballots, one by one, until the job was done. In the end, American voters were heard and elected Joe Biden as our next President. We look forward to working with the new administration to advance equitable policies, to fight climate change, and to put Maryland and the country on a path to a more sustainable environmental future. 

These past few months, Maryland LCV has reached over 250,000 Marylanders through a comprehensive civic engagement campaign to ensure that voters – and particularly those from underrepresented communities — knew how to use their vote to advocate for smart and equitable environmental policies. 

As you know, much of our work happens at the state and local level. We are already strategically focused on the upcoming legislative session and will continue to push for more sustainable and equitable environmental solutions. 

The U.S. and Maryland need to take dramatic and immediate action to address the climate crisis and put the country on a more sustainable environmental path. 

We at Maryland LCV will need your support as we focus on several key pieces of legislation with strong environment and equity components: 

  • A Cumulative Impacts bill that will require the government to publish and maintain a list of overburdened communities in the State; applications for permits for new or expanded industrial facilities in those areas will have to undergo a review that examines environmental and public health factors already present in the community and those that will be added by the new permit.
  • A Climate Omnibus package that will increase Maryland’s greenhouse gas reduction requirements to 60% below 2006 levels by 2030 and net neutral by 2045 along with specific programs to reach those ambitious but achievable goals, including reinvigorating an existing work group on equity and inclusion.
  • A Transit Equity Recovery package that will ensure adequate funding for safe and effective public transit and transitioning the state to electric buses. 

The coming weeks and months will no doubt be difficult for all of us, but better days are ahead. It will take hard work, cooperation, and creativity to get there, but together we can put Maryland and the country on a more stable environmental and equity course. 

With climate change bearing down, we have the work of a lifetime ahead of us. It won’t be easy. But our movement here in Maryland is stronger than ever, and we must keep faith that brighter days are ahead.

Stay well and stay healthy,

Head shot of Kim Coble

Kim Coble, Maryland LCV

Executive Director

The post What the elections mean for Maryland’s environment appeared first on Maryland League of Conservation Voters.

By |2020-11-19T12:26:59-05:00November 19th, 2020|Categories: MDLCV|Comments Off on What the elections mean for Maryland’s environment

MD Environmental Groups Applaud Findings of Climate Commission Report & Call on Elected Leaders for Bold Climate Action

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 17th, 2020

Media Contacts:
Pablo Willis, pablo.willis@sierraclub.org
Dannielle Lipinski, dlipinski@mdlcv.org 

MD Environmental Groups Applaud Findings of Climate Commission Report & Call on Elected Leaders for Bold Climate Action 

ANNAPOLIS, MD – The Sierra Club and Maryland League of Conservation Voters today applauded the Maryland Commission on Climate Change’s new 2020 Annual Report to the Maryland General Assembly and Governor Hogan. 

The Maryland Commission on Climate Change is a bipartisan commission made up of labor unions, government agencies, business representatives, utilities, scientists, and environmental advocates who develop policies and strategies to address the urgent threat of climate change. This year’s bipartisan report outlines several critical actions the state can take to help mitigate the disastrous impacts of the climate crisis. 

The Sierra Club and Maryland LCV lauded several immediate policy Recommendations outlined in the 2020 Annual Report, including:  

  • Transition off all of Maryland’s dirty coal-fired plants by no later than 2030 and establish a community transition plan to support impacted workers and communities. 
  • Update and increase Maryland’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act goals to reduce statewide GHG emissions by 50 percent from 2006 levels by 2030 with a planning goal of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045.
  • Prioritize and invest in equitable electrification of Maryland’s commercial and residential buildings to ensure Marylanders can reap the economic and health benefits of climate-friendly homes through investing in retrofits. 
  • Center environmental and climate justice principles in all planning and coordination with intergovernmental and community partners. 
  • Preserve state and regional efforts to decarbonize transportation through incentives to construct battery charging stations and increase the use of Zero-Emission Vehicles. 

Maryland Senior Campaign Representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, David Smedick, released the following statement:

We applaud the work done by the Maryland Commission on Climate Change in outlining common-sense climate action policies that center the need for equity. In particular, it’s exciting to see the Commission recognize the unsustainable and uneconomic nature of the coal industry and call on the General Assembly to move the state entirely off coal-fired power plants in the coming years while supporting impacted workers and communities in that transition. The report’s groundbreaking recommendations to begin transitioning off fossil fuels in our homes and businesses by heating our buildings with systems that use clean electricity is a necessary change that’ll produce safer, healthier and more climate-friendly buildings. There is more work to do but this year’s report is an important step forward and we hope the General Assembly and Governor Hogan implement the climate actions recommended by the Commission.”

Executive Director for the Maryland League of Conservation Voters and co-chair of the Commission, Kim Coble, released the following statement:

“The Commission’s recommendations have the potential to better position Maryland to be a national leader in responding to climate change while also considering its disadvantaged and overburdened communities. We look forward to working with the Governor and General Assembly to move these recommendations forward.” Coble cited the Transportation and Climate Initiative as a crucial opportunity for the state to use a regional approach to address emission reductions from the transportation sector.

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The post MD Environmental Groups Applaud Findings of Climate Commission Report & Call on Elected Leaders for Bold Climate Action appeared first on Maryland League of Conservation Voters.

By |2020-11-17T14:13:55-05:00November 17th, 2020|Categories: MDLCV|Comments Off on MD Environmental Groups Applaud Findings of Climate Commission Report & Call on Elected Leaders for Bold Climate Action

Statement from Kim Coble, executive director of Maryland LCV, on the General Election

November 4, 2020 Contact: Dannielle Lipinski, dlipinski@mdlcv.org

Statement from Kim Coble, executive director of Maryland LCV, on the General Election

 Free and fair elections are the bedrock of our democracy, and we all need to be patient and have faith in the electoral process. Every vote must be counted, without interference or intimidation. Because voter suppression persists, we especially need to ensure all voices are recognized, particularly those from poor and marginalized communities.

This election season, Maryland LCV reached more than 250,000 Marylanders through a comprehensive civic engagement campaign to ensure that voters – and particularly those from underrepresented communities — knew how to use their vote to advocate for smart and equitable environmental policies. Our staff also has been engaged in election protection and extensive Get Out the Vote activities.

Much of Maryland LCV’s work happens at the state and local level. We are already strategically focused on the upcoming legislative session and will continue to push for more sustainable and equitable environmental solutions regardless of the outcome of the election.

# # #

Maryland LCV is known for educating lawmakers and holding them accountable for their leadership and votes on key environmental issues. Their annual scorecard, along with other reports, help inform voters about their legislators’ records.

www.mdlcv.org

The post Statement from Kim Coble, executive director of Maryland LCV, on the General Election appeared first on Maryland League of Conservation Voters.

By |2020-11-04T08:32:17-05:00November 4th, 2020|Categories: MDLCV|Comments Off on Statement from Kim Coble, executive director of Maryland LCV, on the General Election

Statewide Voting Rights Coalition Urges Patience as Ballots are Counted

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 4, 2020

Contact: Meredith Curtis Goode, ACLU-MD, media@aclu-md.org
Dannielle Lipinski, Maryland LCV Ed Fund, dlipinski@mdlcv.org
Liz Iacobucci, Common Cause, liacobucci@commoncause.org 

Statewide Voting Rights Coalition Urges Patience as Ballots are Counted

Maryland — The state-wide coalition Everyone Votes Maryland has been working tirelessly throughout the 2020 congressional 7th District Special Election, Primary, and now General Election to ensure that every Marylander knows their rights when it comes to voting and ensuring a fair and safe election process.

“We have already seen impressive turnout in Maryland, and voters young and old have demonstrated great resiliency in their ability to navigate new voting processes amidst the pandemic,” said Maryland PIRG Foundation director Emily Scarr. “As we wait for results we should rest assured that our elections staff in Maryland and nationwide are doing the painstaking work of ensuring every vote is counted in a secure manner. This is democracy at work.”

“This election season, Maryland League of Conservation Voters Education Fund deployed a comprehensive civic engagement campaign aimed at ensuring Maryland voters – and particularly those from underrepresented communities — knew how to use their vote to advocate for smart and equitable environmental policies,” said Kim Coble, Executive Director of Maryland LCV Education Fund. 

“We need to be patient and let election officials count all the votes. Maryland’s primary in June was conducted mostly by mail. It took several days after primary day to count all the votes that had been mailed on time for Mayor of Baltimore,” said Maryland Sierra Club political chair Rich Norling. “Some other states have laws that don’t allow them to start processing and counting their thousands of mailed ballots until election day itself. So be prepared for patience as election officials get an accurate count of all the mailed-in ballots.”

“Thanks are owed to the many Maryland volunteers, poll workers, and public election officials for ensuring fair and safe elections during this pandemic,” said Larry Ottinger, Board Chair of Our Maryland Education Fund.  “And to the record number of Marylanders who have voted during this pandemic – whether by mail or in person – to make their voices heard in our democracy.”

“The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) strongly supports every effort to make sure that all the ballots cast in this election are counted. We’d like to thank everyone who worked tirelessly to protect our democracy by ensuring a fair and transparent process that enables every eligible voter’s voice to be heard,” said Zainab Chaudry, Director, CAIR Office in Maryland.

“While COVID-19 has made voting unsafe for many voters with disabilities, mail-in ballots and remote accessible ballots have allowed many voters to cast their ballot safely and independently. But it may take longer for this year for your vote to be officially counted,” said Ben Jackson, Staff Attorney of Disability Rights Maryland.

“We are glad to see our Maryland leaders: Governor Larry Hogan, Senate President Bill Ferguson, and Speaker of the House of Delegates Adrienne Jones have committed to counting every last ballot before declaring winners of the 2020 General Election and hope other states will follow their good, democratic example,” said Cristi Demnowicz, chair of Represent Maryland.

“Baltimore Women United is proud of the efforts of Baltimoreans and Marylanders to turn out the vote this election season, to protect our elections and ensure they are safe and fair, and to make our voices heard as voters. We expect that every vote will be counted – this is our right and our demand. Voting is how the people speak; the time and effort to count all votes is how we are heard. The women of Baltimore will be heard,” said Jessica Klaitman, Baltimore Women United Steering Committee.

Every ballot must be counted. We are proud of the enthusiasm and determination of Marylanders to vote and the massive effort by our coalition partners to ensure robust access to the ballot for all voters. No matter what the outcome of this election, we will continue to expand and protect democracy. Together, we must realize race equity, reimagine policing, end mass incarceration, protect immigrants’ rights, safeguard privacy, advance LGBTQ+ rights, and stop any rollback of our hard won civil rights and civil liberties,” said Dana Vickers Shelley, Executive Director, ACLU of Maryland. 

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Everyone Votes Maryland is a nonpartisan coalition of national, state, and grassroots organizations dedicated to ensuring that all eligible Marylanders can have their voices heard on Election Day. 

https://everyonevotesmaryland.org/

The post Statewide Voting Rights Coalition Urges Patience as Ballots are Counted appeared first on Maryland League of Conservation Voters.

By |2020-11-04T07:34:27-05:00November 4th, 2020|Categories: MDLCV|Comments Off on Statewide Voting Rights Coalition Urges Patience as Ballots are Counted

Md. LCV Chief: As State Faces COVID Challenges, Don’t Leave Transit Needs Behind

Md. LCV Chief: As State Faces COVID Challenges, Don’t Leave Transit Needs Behind

Originally posted on Maryland Matters on October 28, 2020

By Kim Coble, Executive Director of Maryland LCV

Maryland Matters recently speculated that, with vehicular traffic down across the state due to the COVID-19 pandemic, perhaps it’s time to put the brakes on the Hogan administration’s massive highway expansion projects [“COVID-19 Decreased Air Pollution in the State, Study Shows,” Oct. 22]. We agree. It’s time to get out of that gasoline-powered car altogether and jump on the train of public transit and electrification and other zero-emission methods.

In Maryland League of Conservation Voters’ 2020 Environmental Scorecard, we criticized  the General Assembly for failing to pass any major transportation legislation, taking a step backward at exactly the moment when we should have been boldly advancing.

Leadership in both the House and the Senate have begun talking openly about their priorities for the 2021 session in the face of the two national public health emergencies of COVID-19 and racial injustice. We applaud the measures both presiding officers are taking to address these important challenges. We urge them to recognize that public transportation must be central to any proposal, and we are eager to offer solutions that will meet the state’s transportation needs while minimizing the air pollution that particularly plagues our communities of color.

Now, while our state leaders are tackling racial injustice and the systems that keep too many people of color in poverty, is the perfect time to improve our public transit system. The problems are proven:

  • 2015 study out of Harvard identified long commute times for workers in one’s neighborhood as the single strongest factor in the odds of escaping poverty.
  • In Baltimore City, where many students rely on public transportation to get to school, our public transit system has the highest number of breakdowns in the country, according to federal data.
  • Diesel fumes from buses around the state contribute to a disproportionately high number of respiratory illnesses in our children of color who are most likely to rely on school buses. While electric buses have a higher initial cost, the long-term savings of maintenance and gas makes them more cost-effective purchases.

In a nutshell, students can’t benefit from world-class education if they are too sick to go to school or if they can’t reliably get there. Affordable health care does not help those who don’t have a way to get to their doctors without costly emergency services.

A large and diverse coalition of community advocates are rallying to push the General Assembly to pass several bills that will help address the inequities and other impacts of a neglected transit system.

The Transit Safety Investment Act will ensure that the Maryland Transit Administration has sufficient funds to adequately maintain the current fleet of buses, trains, subways and stations – allowing safe and reliable transportation for roughly 6 million riders each month including those our health care workers and the people in our state who do not own their own cars to reach their health care providers.

The Electric Bus Transition Act would ensure that by 2035 all the buses maintained by the state are zero-emission buses, reducing the diesel pollution that most impacts communities of color and low-income populations in our state.

Another bill, School Bus Purchasing – Zero Emission Vehicle – Requirement, long championed by the Maryland League of Conservation Voters, would do the same for school buses to help combat the epidemic levels of asthma in Latinx children around the state.

The Transportation Funding Act creates the state fund to implement the Transportation Climate Initiative, a multi-state compact to reduce transportation pollution throughout the Northeast and mid-Atlantic region.

The General Assembly should also consider a new bill that expands “complete streets” policies that this General Assembly has already supported. The bill would allow projects that improve bike, pedestrian and public transportation infrastructure to be funded by red light and traffic camera revenues, which would make these systems safer and more accessible to all Marylanders.

Each of these proposals helps support our statewide goals of reducing the carbon emissions from our transportation sector and preserving the air pollution reductions that have been a result of COVID-driven stay-at-home orders. Each of these proposals also supports the growth of good, family-supporting union jobs at nearly double the rate of the same amount of money spent on highway expansion. That sounds like a win-win solution for all Marylanders who are struggling to emerge from quarantine.

Marylanders deserve investments in infrastructure that improves our health and the health of our communities. We deserve access to good jobs and good health care. And we deserve the safe, clean and reliable transportation system — including bike and pedestrian infrastructure — that allows us to truly be one Maryland, connected to each other and all that are important to us.

We look forward to working with the Maryland General Assembly to make all of this possible.

The post Md. LCV Chief: As State Faces COVID Challenges, Don’t Leave Transit Needs Behind appeared first on Maryland League of Conservation Voters.

By |2020-10-28T13:02:31-04:00October 28th, 2020|Categories: MDLCV|Comments Off on Md. LCV Chief: As State Faces COVID Challenges, Don’t Leave Transit Needs Behind

2020 Legislative Green Champions

2020 Legislative Green Champions

Maryland LCV honors those legislators who were sponsors and leaders on our 2020 legislative priorities:

Agriculture

  • Chlorpyrifos Ban: Del. Dana Stein and Sen. Clarence Lam

Chlorpyrifos, a pesticide known to be toxic and linked to significant, adverse health impacts in children. Although prohibited for commercial or residential use for years, it is still permitted for use on crops and golf courses. This bill would ban all uses of chlorpyrifos.

Resiliency

  • Environmental Accountability and Transparency:  Del. Brooke Lierman and Sen. Sarah Elfreth

Increasing transparency of the inspection and enforcement data by state agencies would dramatically help community groups and non-profit monitoring organizations enforce environmental laws. The bill also would have created an ombudsman position in the Office of the Attorney General to facilitate coordination between agencies and citizens.

Water

  • Plastic Bag Ban: Del. Brooke Lierman and Sen. Malcolm Augustine

Banning plastic bags from point-of-sale throughout the state would reduce water pollution, diminish Maryland’s reliance on petroleum products and fossil fuels, and clean our air and waterways.

Transportation

  • Transit Funding: Del. Brooke Lierman and Sen. Craig Zucker

According to a Capital Needs Assessment released by the Department of Transportation, Maryland’s public transit system has a $2 billion shortfall over the next 10 years. The transportation sector is the single greatest contributor to Maryland’s greenhouse gas emissions and provides critical services to low-income communities. Public transit system improvements are essential to substantively tackling climate change and environmental justice.

  • State Fleet Bus Electrification: Del. Marc Korman and Sen. Craig Zucker

Diesel emissions cause climate pollution and threaten the respiratory health of passengers, drivers, and especially low-income communities that are frequently located near major roadways.This bill would require a gradual transition of all buses purchased by the state to zero-emission vehicles.

  • Transportation Carbon Fund Act (TCI): Del. Marc Korman

This bill creates a special fund to finance projects related to the Transportation Climate Initiative, a multi-state effort to improve transportation, develop the clean energy economy, and reduce carbon emissions from the transportation sector throughout the mid-Atlantic region.

  • School Bus Electrification: Del. David Fraser-Hidalgo

Diesel emissions from school buses disproportionately affect the health of low-income students and students of color. This bill would require a gradual transition of all buses purchased by county boards of elections — or independent contractors hired to serve public schools — to zero-emission vehicles.

Climate

  • Coal Transition: Del. Kumar Barve and Sen. Chris West

Coal plants are a leading contributor to smog-forming nitrous oxide pollution.  More than 85% of Marylanders — and 90% of African American and Hispanic communities — live in counties with air quality below federal standards. This bill would set a timeline for the retirement of Maryland’s remaining coal-fired power plants, with a transition plan that invests in communities, workers and counties with coal plants.

Maryland LCV also recognizes members who sponsored additional environmental community priority legislation:

  • Sustainable Buildings Act: Del. Terri Hill and Sens. Guy Guzzone and Clarence Lam
  • Removing Incineration Subsidies: Del. Nick Mosby and Sen. Michael Hough
  • Oyster Fisheries Override: Del Kumar Barve and Sen. Sarah Elfreth
  • Oyster Corrective Bill: Del. Jim Gilchrist and Sen. Sarah Elfreth

We applaud these legislators for sponsoring legislation on climate policy

  • Climate Solutions Act: Del. Dana Stein and Sen. Paul Pinsky
  • PSC Climate Bill: Del. Lorig Charkoudian and Sen. Ben Kramer
  • Carbon Pricing: Del. David Fraser-Hidalgo and Sen. Ben Kramer
  • Community Choice Energy: Del. Lorig Charkoudian and Sen. Pam Beidle

We applaud these legislators for sponsoring legislation on water policy

  • Conowingo Dam Emergency Legislation: Del. Jay Jacobs and Sen. Steve Hershey
  • County Resilience Authority: Del. Courtney Watson and Sen. Katie Fry Hester
  • BRF for Resilience Funding: Del. Courtney Watson and Sen. Katie Fry Hester

The post 2020 Legislative Green Champions appeared first on Maryland League of Conservation Voters.

By |2020-10-13T08:50:56-04:00October 13th, 2020|Categories: MDLCV|Comments Off on 2020 Legislative Green Champions

An Insider’s View on the Elections

An Insider’s View on the Elections

On October 6th, our Executive Director, Kim Coble was joined by the national League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski for a behind-the-scenes look at the general election and what it could mean for our environment.

Candace Dodson-Reed is our VIP moderator. Candace is the host of the popular Elevate Maryland podcast. She’s also the chief of staff and executive director of the Office of Equity and Inclusion at UMBC and on the board of Maryland LCV.

Check out the recording below

 

The post An Insider’s View on the Elections appeared first on Maryland League of Conservation Voters.

By |2020-10-06T20:03:50-04:00October 6th, 2020|Categories: MDLCV|Comments Off on An Insider’s View on the Elections

Civic Engagement Toolkit

Civic Engagement Toolkit

Your Vote: Our Future is a campaign designed by the Maryland League of Conservation Voters Education Fund that encourages all  Marylanders to register to vote and cast their ballot in a safe and effective manner. Help us reach as many Marylanders as possible by creating a 1 minute video in which you tell your own story about why you vote. Then post your video and inspire others to vote!

Civic Engagement Toolkit

The post Civic Engagement Toolkit appeared first on Maryland League of Conservation Voters.

By |2020-10-01T21:16:42-04:00October 1st, 2020|Categories: MDLCV|Comments Off on Civic Engagement Toolkit