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Maryland LCV Comments of the SC Maglev Project

May 24th, 2021

Re: Comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), Draft Section 4(f) Evaluation, Draft Section 106 Programmatic Agreement, and Ridership Studies for the Baltimore-Washington SCMAGLEV Project

Maryland League of Conservation Voters (Maryland LCV) is intrigued by the idea of high-speed rail in Maryland and appreciates the opportunity to comment on the DEIS for the proposed SCMAGLEV project. As currently outlined in the DEIS, we have significant concerns with the project. These comments outline our concerns and our recommendations regarding the commitments Baltimore-Washington
Rapid Rail, LLC (BWRR) need to make to address our concerns.

Maryland LCV is committed to a healthy environment for everyone in Maryland. We believe climate change is the most urgent environmental threat facing people and our planet. We fight to protect clean air and water and strive for equity and racial justice in everything we do. The general concept of a magnetic levitation train system presents intriguing opportunities towards our core mission and
values. Maryland needs transit-oriented development and additional investment in public transportation systems that reduce demand for fossil fuel powered cars. We hope to see investments in transit projects that will reduce the demand for carbon intensive transportation. We also support projects that provide good paying, family supporting jobs for all Marylanders and strongly support union jobs in the public
transportation industry.

Maryland LCV has three areas of significant concern regarding the SCMAGLEV Project based on the information presented in the DEIS and discussions with various stakeholders.

1) Energy consumption and carbon footprint: The DEIS states that this project could require 3 trillion BTUs of energy and this energy consumption does not appear to be offset by the potential drop in traffic. If powered by the traditional fossil fuel intensive grid in Maryland, the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in this state will increase because of this project, even after accounting for the decreased car traffic. Unless the train is entirely powered by renewable sources such as wind and solar energy, the project has a significant carbon footprint.
Maryland LCV strongly encourages BWRR to commit to reduce the fossil fuel energy consumption to net zero. Specifically, we encourage BWRR to commit to ensuring the energy to power all aspects of the project comes from Tier 1 renewable sources including wind and solar power. Additionally, if solar panels and wind turbines to supply the estimated 3 trillion BTUs of needed energy for the project need to be built, BWRR should avoid removing forests or other natural areas, and costs of the increased clean energy infrastructure should be paid by BWRR.

2) Impact on protected natural areas: All the alternative routes presented in the DEIS go through the protected natural areas that make up the ‘green wedge’ of central Maryland. This is the largest remaining habitat hub in the region of which contiguous habitat is particularly important to forest interior dwelling species. All proposed alternatives have impacts on federally protected land and the
sponsor preferred alternative impacts the federally protected research refuge, the nation’s only national wildlife refuge established to support wildlife research. The proposed byway, 200-acre transit maintenance facility and other infrastructure create significant impervious surfaces that will create significant stormwater loads to impacted watersheds. All alternatives create significant impacts on forests, wetlands, and local waterways. According to the DEIS, conservation and mitigation requirements are according to state minimum standards which we find insufficient to mitigate the high ecological importance of these areas.

Maryland LCV strongly encourages BWRR to go beyond state minimums to address impacts on Maryland’s lands and waters. Specifically, impact on natural land, especially federally protected natural land must be minimized to the maximum extent practicable, and this project must not remove land from the nation’s only research refuge. Mature ecosystems provide far greater ecological stability than newly planted ones. Where impact to natural areas is unavoidable, BWRR must commit to ambitious restoration and permanently protect ratios to compensate for affected ecosystems. BWRR should commit to a reforestation ratio of five acres of afforestation and permanent protection provided to compensate for every one acre removed or significantly impacted (5:1), and at a wetland/floodplain mitigation ratio of 10 acres restored for every one acre that is significantly impacted (10:1). All other impacted ecosystems should be restored at a 2:1 ratio. Replanting and permanent protection must be in hubs and corridors of contiguous habitat as outlined in the Maryland state and/or local green infrastructure maps.

3) Equity concerns on local communities, communities of color, and potential environmental justice hotspots: It is our assumption that the greatest benefits of the project as outlined in the DEIS are focused on the more wealthy and the areas outside the communities directly impacted by the project. While investment in underserved areas such as Cherry Hill could provide economic uplift to
the area, there is also the danger of current residents being priced out of this area through gentrification. There is also concern that communities along the train route could be adversely affected by direct and indirect impacts such as the high winds caused by the fresh air egress facilities and increased stormwater and air pollution from parking structures at train hubs.

Maryland LCV is deeply committed to not only avoiding impacts but lifting up underserved communities and strongly encourages BWRR to commit to doing everything they can to improve and support these communities. Specifically, we encourage BWRR to provide a fare assistance program for “blue collar” workers and moderate-to-low income households in the communities impacted by this project (e.g. Cherry Hill). Assistance programs must also be put in place to ensure that any impacts upon the local communities are fairly and equitably mitigated. For example, BWRR could create robust programs to protect affected communities to ensure they are not priced out of
their neighborhood and forced to leave due to gentrification. Of most importance, however, is that BWRR commits to creating and implementing programs and solutions that are designed by the communities. Representatives of these communities need to play a formal and integral role in addressing the potential adverse impacts of the project. Finding, supporting, and engaging these representatives needs to be a top priority for BWRR.

Maryland needs to aggressively work to reduce GHG emissions. A high-speed rail system that is sourced from renewable energy could play an important role in meeting this goal. However, as presented in the DEIS Maryland LCV has significant concerns with this project. BWRR needs to commit to producing a net- zero GHG project, ensuring local impacted communities are engaged in determining how they can be strengthened by the project and that impacts to natural areas are avoided at all cost. If there are unavoidable impacts, the project should mitigate far more than the minimum requirements. BWRR has an opportunity to send a clear signal and be a leader by making the above commitments to Maryland’s land, water, climate, and people.

Download a copy of our public comments here. 

The post Maryland LCV Comments of the SC Maglev Project appeared first on Maryland League of Conservation Voters.

By |2021-05-24T11:03:28-04:00May 24th, 2021|Categories: MDLCV|Comments Off on Maryland LCV Comments of the SC Maglev Project

Support for Clean Energy Proposals in American Jobs Plan Through the Roof in Maryland, including Congressional Districts

Support for Clean Energy Proposals in American Jobs Plan Through the Roof in Maryland, including Congressional Districts

 Data for Progress, LCV release new American Jobs Plan poll and modeled data 

 Washington, D.C. – Marylanders across all Congressional districts strongly support the Biden Administration’s American Jobs Act and the investments it would make in climate, clean energy, good-paying union jobs, and justice, according to new polling released today by Data for Progress and the League of Conservation Voters (LCV).

The groups conducted a joint poll to assess the attitudes of likely voters towards the American Jobs Plan, specifically the key provisions that address climate change, advance clean energy deployment and domestic manufacturing, support clean water, and advance equity by focusing 40% of the benefits of climate and clean energy infrastructure investments into low-income communities, communities of color and other disadvantaged communities. The Data for Progress team used advanced modeling techniques to estimate support at the Congressional district and state level. More on methodology can be found here. 

“Maryland voters are clear that they support the investments of the American Jobs Plan in climate, clean energy jobs, and justice,” said Kim Coble, Maryland LCV executive director. “The polling shows that voters understand that creating good-paying jobs while tackling climate change and environmental racism is the right thing for people and the planet. For any politician who cares what their constituents thinks, it just doesn’t make sense to stand in the way of progress on climate, clean energy, and environmental justice.”

In Maryland, 83% of voters across the state support the American Jobs Plan, 83% think it’s important that Congress takes action to address climate change, 85% support investments in clean energy jobs, and 78% support ensuring the benefits of climate and clean energy investments go to the environmental justice communities long exploited by polluters.

The breakdown by congressional districts can be seen in the chart below. The national polling breakdown is available here.

The Biden-Harris administration set the stage for climate action in their first 100 days and Congress must deliver on the climate and clean energy mandate voters elected them to see through by passing the overwhelmingly popular American Jobs Plan as soon as possible.

MD District

Representative

LCV score

Support for clean energy investments*

Support for American Jobs Act*

Support for Envir. Justice investments*

Impt for Congress to take action to address climate change *

MD-01

Andy Harris

3.00%

78.00%

74.00%

67.00%

74.00%

MD-02

Dutch Ruppersberger

89.00%

86.00%

84.00%

79.00%

84.00%

MD-03

John Sarbanes

96.00%

86.00%

85.00%

80.00%

85.00%

MD-04

Anthony Brown

93.00%

87.00%

86.00%

81.00%

86.00%

MD-05

Steny Hoyer

82.00%

85.00%

84.00%

78.00%

84.00%

MD-06

David Trone

98.00%

83.00%

80.00%

74.00%

80.00%

MD-07

Kweisi Mfume

86.00%

89.00%

88.00%

84.00%

89.00%

MD-08

Jamie Raskin

99.00%

87.00%

86.00%

81.00%

86.00%

 *Registered voters

 ###

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.

The post Support for Clean Energy Proposals in American Jobs Plan Through the Roof in Maryland, including Congressional Districts appeared first on Maryland League of Conservation Voters.

By |2021-05-13T11:08:47-04:00May 13th, 2021|Categories: MDLCV|Comments Off on Support for Clean Energy Proposals in American Jobs Plan Through the Roof in Maryland, including Congressional Districts

Statement from Maryland LCV on the Biden Administration’s “30 by 30” Plan

Statement from Maryland LCV on the Biden Administration’s “30 by 30” Plan

On May 6, 2021 the Biden Administration released its new “America the Beautiful” report, which outlines steps the U.S. could take to protect 30 percent of U.S. lands and water by 2030. The Maryland League of Conservation Voters released the following statement in response to the announcement:

The Biden Administration’s commitment to conserve 30 percent of U.S. lands, waters, and ocean by 2030 is great news for all Marylanders. The science is clear that conserving and restoring natural areas is an effective strategy to buffer against the worst impacts of climate change. With more than 7,000 miles of shoreline and approximately 265,000 acres of land that is less than five feet above sea level, Maryland’s coastal communities are among the most vulnerable in the country.

In addition, for too long low-income communities and communities of color in Maryland and elsewhere have not had access or representation when decisions that affect green spaces and nature are made. The result has been inequitable distribution of green space and adverse social, economic, and health consequences. The 30 by 30 plan will increase local participation in the decision-making process, bringing forward solutions that work for communities while protecting Maryland’s natural systems that are so crucial to our well-being and economic security. 

###

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.

The post Statement from Maryland LCV on the Biden Administration’s “30 by 30” Plan appeared first on Maryland League of Conservation Voters.

By |2021-05-06T14:23:29-04:00May 6th, 2021|Categories: MDLCV|Comments Off on Statement from Maryland LCV on the Biden Administration’s “30 by 30” Plan

Membership Survey

Create your own user feedback survey

The post Membership Survey appeared first on Maryland League of Conservation Voters.

By |2021-05-06T08:32:55-04:00May 6th, 2021|Categories: MDLCV|Comments Off on Membership Survey

Remembering Louise Dunlap

Remembering Louise Dunlap

Mrs. Louise C. Dunlap was one of Maryland LCV’s earliest and strongest supporters. She was a courageous woman who valiantly fought at the federal level for clean water and the Chesapeake Bay. She co-founded and became president of the Environmental Policy Institute and the Environmental Policy Center in 1972, becoming the first female Chief Executive of a major U.S. national environmental organization.

When she and her late husband moved to southern Anne Arundel County, they became, and remained, very active in local and state politics. Louise was always ready and willing to give valuable advice and guidance on elections, politics, and the environment.

Mrs. Dunlap and her late husband, Joe Browder, were great champions of Maryland LCV and the environment and will be missed. We send our sympathies to her family and friends.

Read her obituary here.

The post Remembering Louise Dunlap appeared first on Maryland League of Conservation Voters.

By |2021-04-29T09:09:43-04:00April 29th, 2021|Categories: MDLCV|Comments Off on Remembering Louise Dunlap

Staci Hartwell, Patrick Miller Join Governing Boards of Maryland LCV

IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                        

April 22, 2021

Staci Hartwell, Patrick Miller Join Governing Boards of Maryland LCV

Annapolis, MD – Renewable energy expert Staci Hartwell and digital marketing executive Patrick Miller have been newly elected to the Board of Directors of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters (LCV). They will each serve a three-year term beginning April, 2021. Hartwell will serve on the organization’s education board and Miller will be part of the organization’s political board.

“Staci and Patrick bring a unique mix of industry knowledge, planning, and project management skills to the table,” said Maryland LCV Executive Director Kim Coble. “They both also have experience working in the community and advancing environmental policies. As Maryland LCV works to maximize the participation of voters in Maryland conservation issues, Staci and Patrick’s leadership and expertise will be extremely valuable to us.”

Staci Hartwell honed her energy expertise while working with energy giant and innovator Tesla, where she mounted comprehensive strategies for increasing market share for solar. She developed a grassroots and “grasstops” approach to advancing the adoption of solar through faith-based, social and community groups, employment retraining organizations, and institutes of higher education. 

As a consultant, she has been responsible for the sales and installation of over 40 megawatts of residential, commercial, and industrial solar in Washington, DC, and Maryland. As a community volunteer/advocate, she serves as co-chair for Environmental and Climate Justice with the NAACP Maryland State Conference, where she has orchestrated the MD Solar Equity Initiative, a solar awareness, and jobs campaign; the “Earth Day Solar Awareness” project; and the internationally recognized “Climate Justice is Racial Justice” awareness campaign.

In 2014, Patrick Miller co-founded Flywheel Digital, which in 2018 became part of Ascential, a  British specialist information, data and ecommerce optimization company. Today, as co-president of Ascential’s Digital Commerce Division, Miller manages all product and technology initiatives for Flywheel and leads digital commerce marketing and strategy. 

Miller has focused on digital retail and brand success since 2010.  He previously oversaw the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s website and social media and has worked on numerous political campaigns managing websites, targeting, and voter contact. He is a graduate of James Madison University and volunteers for a number of environmental and trails-advocacy organizations.

# # #

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.

The post Staci Hartwell, Patrick Miller Join Governing Boards of Maryland LCV appeared first on Maryland League of Conservation Voters.

By |2021-04-22T16:32:02-04:00April 22nd, 2021|Categories: MDLCV|Comments Off on Staci Hartwell, Patrick Miller Join Governing Boards of Maryland LCV

Celebrate Earth Day every day

Celebrate Earth Day every day

This pandemic has reminded us of how valuable our public green spaces are to all Marylanders. Many families embarking on hiking trips to our state parks are one of the things many of us were able to look forward to during the pandemic. 

It’s also reminded us how very fortunate we are to live in a state with such extraordinary natural resources, from the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries to the mountains of Western Maryland. 

This Earth Day, we have compiled four ideas on how to safely celebrate Earth Day on April 22 and throughout the year. 

 

Enjoy one of Maryland’s extraordinary protected areas with your family or loved ones.  Learn about Earth Day events in our state parks on the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) website.

 

 

 

Gather the folks in your “bubble” and spend a few hours tidying up one of your local green spaces, such as a community park.   

 

 

 

Help sustain and diversify Maryland’s environmental movement by supporting groups like Black Girls Vote which empowers Black women in Baltimore and beyond to use their voting power on key issues or Chispa Maryland which ensures that Maryland Latinx families and community leaders are a powerful voice for protecting our air, land, water, public health, and future.

 

 

Sign our pledge to be a “conservation voter.” If we are going to preserve Maryland’s environmental health for future generations, we need to make conservation a top priority with Maryland’s decision-makers. Get to know your representatives on the state and local level and tell them that environmental issues are important to you. 

 

 

When you pledge to be a Maryland Conservation Voter, we will give you tips on how to register to vote, update your voter registration, and use your vote, and voice, for the environmental issues that matter to you. 

Enjoy the outdoors this week, and happy Earth Day!

The post Celebrate Earth Day every day appeared first on Maryland League of Conservation Voters.

By |2021-04-22T16:01:48-04:00April 22nd, 2021|Categories: MDLCV|Comments Off on Celebrate Earth Day every day

Maryland LCV Statement on Chauvin Guilty Verdict

Maryland LCV Statement on Chauvin Guilty Verdict

Annapolis, MD — In response to the jury’s finding that Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is guilty on all murder charges for killing George Floyd, the Maryland League of Conservation Voters (LCV) issued the following statement:

“No court verdict will ever deliver real justice to Black people who have for too long been the victim of violence from police, but we are grateful that George Floyd’s killer will face some measure of accountability under the law. 

“Maryland LCV exists to protect Maryland’s land, air, water — and its communities. We will continue to advocate for and work towards solutions that bring real equity and justice for all Marylanders. Today and every day, we believe Black Lives Matter.”

The post Maryland LCV Statement on Chauvin Guilty Verdict appeared first on Maryland League of Conservation Voters.

By |2021-04-21T13:18:07-04:00April 21st, 2021|Categories: MDLCV|Comments Off on Maryland LCV Statement on Chauvin Guilty Verdict

Broad Coalition Celebrates Passage of the Maryland Transit Safety & Investment Act

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 8th, 2021

Broad Coalition Celebrates Passage of the Maryland Transit Safety & Investment Act
Group applauds passage of landmark bill to address longtime transit maintenance backlog, improve safety, reliability, equity and access; cautions that it’s a first step in a long process to shore up system

Annapolis, MD – A broad statewide coalition hailed final passage of the Transit Safety & Investment Act (HB 114), a critical measure to improve public transportation across the state. The bi-partisan bill, championed by Sens. Cory McCray and Craig Zucker and Del. Brooke Lierman, mandates minimum funding levels in MTA’s six year capital budget to begin to close the $2 billion gap in the Maryland Transit Administration’s (MTA’s) maintenance backlog. 

The coalition brought together supporters from a wide array of organizations: environmental, transportation, business, labor, disability rights, civil rights, education, workforce development, faith, healthcare, and community.

“For too long, our transportation system has been underinvested, affecting job security and the economy. This ends today, as the Act ensures that Maryland makes investments that meet capital needs so that we may have a safe and reliable transit system,” said Senator Cory McCray, representing Baltimore City’s district 45. “As a native of Baltimore City, in middle school and high school I had to take two buses to and from school. And that’s what this is really all about: making sure our children can get to school, our seniors can pick-up prescriptions, and that those who find public transit a necessity can depend on it.” 

The legislation mandates an average minimum amount of $451 million annually for MTA capital needs for the next six years, plus a minimum of $319 million in a seventh year, fiscal year 2029. The mandate ensures that the MTA will get close to the $462 million it needs to chip away at its backlog of deferred state of good repair needs. It will help maintain safety systems, bus shelters, buses, light rail, subway and MARC tracks and switches, and more.

“In infrastructure, you get what you pay for – and for the past six years, the Hogan Administration has refused to adequately fund our transit system. That has meant poor service, broken buses, unsafe rail, and aging infrastructure,” said Delegate Brooke Lierman, representing Baltimore City’s district 46. “By passing the Transit Safety & Investment Act, the General Assembly has declared that Marylanders deserve safe and reliable transit to get them to work, to school, to the doctor and to other destinations. MTA has done the work of identifying the projects it needs to complete to have a robust and on-time system, and with this guaranteed funding over the next several years they will be able to undertake those important projects, helping to transform our region and building more prosperous families.”

“We are finally making sure the money hits the road with this strong investment  in our transportation infrastructure. I applaud all those who worked so hard to make this reality.”
Senator Craig Zucker, representing Montgomery County’s district 14. 

Maryland’s metro subway, light rail, bus and commuter rail system is ranked among the worst states in the country for breakdowns and delays and its paratransit service is failing. The new funding will improve service and reliability and ensure the system’s trains, buses and facilities are safe. The bill also passed with an amendment sponsored by Senator Corderman that would require the Maryland Department of Transportation to study the cost and feasibility of expanding MARC service to Western Maryland.

The coalition is calling on Governor Hogan to sign the measure or allow it to pass into law when it reaches his desk. The group also stressed that while this legislation is an important step to improving public transit in Maryland, a lot remains to be done to modernize and expand the system so that it works for everyone.

Advocates from around the state weighed in on the legislation: 

“Essential workers who rely on MTA service have made an incalculable contribution to the public’s health and well-being throughout the pandemic; they deserve a first class transit system, not one riddled with delays and long-neglected repairs. The road to recovery is long but, thanks to the passage of the Transit Safety and Investment Act, we have taken an important first step toward building a safe, reliable transit system for our essential workers and riders.”
Elizabeth Bunn, Maryland State Director, Labor Network for Sustainability

“We are elated that the Maryland General Assembly has taken this crucial first step to improve the public transit system in Maryland.  Maryland LCV’s own polling found that 76% of Maryland voters said that increasing the availability and quality of public transportation options should be a priority. It is great to see that legislators listened to their constituents. We can now begin to ensure Marylanders will have access to a reliable and safe transit system over individual transport, which is the largest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions in Maryland.”
-Kim Coble, Executive Director, Maryland League of Conservation Voters

“The passage of the Transit Safety and Investments Act puts urgent funding for an equitable, safe, and reliable public transportation system for Maryland in the hands of the people and their legislators – just where the future of transit belongs!”
Samuel Jordan, President, Baltimore Transit Equity Coalition 

“This funding will help MTA fix their backlog of repairs. We hear complaints from transit riders about breakdowns, no-show buses, and riders in wheelchairs getting passed up by buses because bus wheelchair ramps are broken. It’s my hope that this funding will help improve the quality of service transit riders in Maryland receive for years to come.”
– Brian O’Malley, President & CEO, Central Maryland Transportation Alliance

“We are thrilled that the Transit Safety & Investment Act passed the General Assembly. This bill is a priority for the Sierra Club and the Maryland environmental community. All Marylanders deserve a safe and reliable transit system that reduces climate pollution and improves mobility.”
Josh Tulkin, Director, Maryland Sierra Club

The post Broad Coalition Celebrates Passage of the Maryland Transit Safety & Investment Act appeared first on Maryland League of Conservation Voters.

By |2021-04-08T15:08:54-04:00April 8th, 2021|Categories: MDLCV|Comments Off on Broad Coalition Celebrates Passage of the Maryland Transit Safety & Investment Act