The Maryland League of Conservation Voters Education Fund applauds Mayor Jake Day’s leadership and commitment to service. On behalf of our board, staff, and members, we wish him a productive and safe deployment. Mayor Day was our 2018 Teddy Roosevelt Award winner in recognition of his body of work that promises to leave a positive conservation legacy that mirrors the ethos of President Theodore R Roosevelt. We are proud of Mayor Day.
Thank you again for your generosity in donating to our GoFundMe campaign during May 2020 for the “COVID-19 Crisis Fund” for the Latino community of Langley Park. I’m delighted to now report that another $20,000 has been awarded – in addition to the more than $10,000 that you helped raise – to directly assist this community!
I’m so proud of this effort fostered by our CHISPA Maryland program in partnership with the Langley Park Civic Association. “This grant from the League of Conservation Voters will provide a great relief to these families so that they are not left behind, and it will also help our community to move forward together,” said Cándida Garcia, a board member of the Langley Park Civic Association. “The Civic Association will use these funds to provide direct financial relief to immigrant families that are experiencing hardships related to COVID-19 and increase the capacity of the Langley Park Civic Association to better assist residents of this community during the pandemic and beyond.”
The Langley Park community is a longtime partner of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters Education Fund. Through our Chispa Maryland program, and in partnership with community members, faith leaders, and the Langley park Civic Association — we have delivered environmental education workshops, advocacy opportunities, and leadership training that has produced over 30 Environmental Justice and Action “Promotores” (advocacy leaders) from this community over the past five years.
“These Promotores and leaders have become the heart and soul of the Chispa Maryland program, and this community has been a key ally in advancing environmental legislation and policies that incorporate environmental justice in Maryland,” said Chispa Maryland Program Director Ramon Palencia-Calvo. “With many community members experiencing income loss due to lay-offs or significant reduction of work hours, and many unable to access federal assistance programs, we consider continued support for the community to be an urgent priority.”
In May, Maryland LCV Education Fund and Chispa Maryland partnered with the Langley Park Civic Association to also assist its immigrant residents during the coronavirus pandemic. Jointly, the two raised over $10,000 through a 10-day GoFundMe campaign to help families with emergency assistance for rent, food, medicine, and other essential items.
“During that same May period, we applied for the $20,000 grant for the community from the national League of Conservation Voters’ COVID-19 Fund,” said Palencia-Calvo. “We are thrilled that the funds have now been awarded, because the community of Langley Park continues to experience hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic.”
Those who are interested in supporting Chispa’s COVID-19 community relief efforts should contact Maryland LCV Education Fund at email@example.com
May 20, 2020- Original Post
By Ramon Palencia-Calvo, Deputy Director and Chispa Maryland Director En español
Through our Chispa Maryland program, we have developed transformational relationships with a variety of environmental and community groups. The Prince George’s County community of Langley Park,where upwards of 80% of the residents are Latino, has become one of our most effective and valued partners.
Our Chispa Maryland program and community leaders and residents of Langley Park have collaborated on environmental education workshops, advocacy opportunities, community clean ups, environmental forums, and air quality monitoring. I know I can always count on the Langley Park community to go the extra mile in support of the environmental issues that are so important to all of us.
Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic is severely threatening the Langley Park community, one of the most affected areas in all of Maryland. Latino community members are experiencing income loss due to layoffs or significant reduction of work hours, and many have been unable to access federal assistance or other relief programs.
Over 30 Environmental Justice and Action Promotores from this community have graduated from our program. These Promotores and leaders have become the heart and soul of the Chispa Maryland program, and this community has helped us advance environmental legislation and policies, such as the Clean Energy Jobs Act, the Clean Buses for Healthy Niños campaign, and banning styrofoam in Prince George’s County.
In response to the needs of our community allies, Chispa Maryland is partnering with the Langley Park Civic Association, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that serves individuals residing in Langley Park, to assist its immigrant community directly affected by COVID-19 and the broader pandemic. This organization and the people they represent have been key partners in helping Chispa Maryland advocate for climate justice.
They have stood with us to advance our joint environmental priorities, and now they need us to stand with them. Join us today in support of the Langley Park community and our 10 day campaign to raise funds directly to those in need. Donate to our COVID-19 Crisis Fund!
The Langley Park Civic Association will identify families that require critically urgent financial assistance for rent, food, medicine, or other essential items. The funds will be used to provide direct financial relief to those families who might have been rejected from other funding sources, have received only partial relief, or have emergency needs that are simply too urgent to undergo a complex administrative process.
Thank you and I hope you and your families are well in this time,
Ramon Palencia-Calvo, Deputy Executive Director and Chispa Maryland Director
Maryland LCV Ed Fund and Chispa Maryland
Written by Ben Alexandro, Water Policy Director
The Hogan administration is using a complicated ‘water quality trading’ program to let Maryland counties pollute more than they are permitted to.
For years the Hogan administration has been touting nutrient trading as a new market-based strategy that could help save the Chesapeake Bay. The administration said it would spur innovation like never before and be the new ingredient in the bay restoration plan that finally uses efficient and smart investments. The assertion is that this will lead to great new projects and filtering practices to save the Bay. Unfortunately, that is not at all how it is being used today.
Please let me explain: The most urban areas of Maryland now have expiring Clean Water Act permits which are supposed to require the treatment of pollution coming off of urban areas by the equivalent of restoring 20% of urban land surface to forest. While some counties like Carroll were able to meet their goal legitimately, other counties like Baltimore (who got rid of their polluted runoff fee that financed their improvement projects and as a result cancelled a bunch of real projects in the works) couldn’t meet their goal. It is true that the requirements under the last permits were very ambitious. But now, rather than the state issuing violations or legal settlements like they did for Montgomery County, Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) is letting other counties quietly turn to ‘nutrient trading’ to magically smooth things over, in many cases, for free without actual reductions in pollution.
A False Fantasy:
As one of the authors of the Environmental Finance Center’s Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay Restoration Financing Strategy Final Report I am not usually an opponent of nutrient trading. In theory the idea is to create a ‘cap and trade’ program where you use the cap on how much an entity can pollute. Then let them buy ‘credits’ created by separate pollution reduction projects offsite. The idea is through a competitive market for credits, Maryland can reduce more pollution for less cost. Currently, the most urban counties in Maryland have a federally mandated Clean Water Act permits that say how much polluted runoff must be reduced before the permit expires. MDE has already allowed Anne Arundel, Baltimore, and Prince George’s Counties to amend their expired permits meant to reduce polluted runoff to allow the county governments to ‘trade credits’ instead of reducing pollution themselves. MDE released that it will allow Harford County, Frederick County, and the State Highway Administrations to amend their permits as well.
If functioning correctly, county governments, and other buyers, will invest money to incentivize creating new and more effective pollution reduction practices. The idea is that if there was a market for pollution reduction, a farmer doing something like planting forests near a stream could reduce twice the pollution for half the cost that a town or city could from ripping up concrete and asphalt to plant trees in the urban area. So why not let the county pay the farmer to reduce pollution upstream and get more bang for your buck?
Critics might point out that a faulty trading program can lead to real world injustices. For example, a trading program done incorrectly could lead to pollution hotspots often in communities of color and underserved areas, which is simply racial and environmental injustice. Often low-income areas feel the most negative effects of concentrated pollution because polluters in those areas are the ones who buy ‘credits’ from elsewhere instead of cleaning up onsite. Critics also point out sloppy verification and enforcement issues in the trading regulations and that the MDE is chronically understaffed- potentially too understaffed to properly administer and police the program. The Choose Clean Water Coalition, a coalition of over 230 organizations working towards clean water and a clean Chesapeake Bay do not have an official policy supporting nutrient trading. However, if trading is to occur, the Coalition attests these Twelve Principles are essential to ensure water quality is protected. While pollution hotspots, counterfeit credits, etc. are often issues in a poorly managed trading program, I think if MDE increases staff, follows these twelve principles and becomes truly committed to creating a well-regulated trading market with strong protections, these issues could be avoided and the administration’s dream of free markets incentivizing pollution reductions could be a reality.
The way the administration is running the program this far is poor to say the least. So far it seems to be simply a way to ‘cook the books’ and make it look like counties are reducing more pollution than they actually are. It is a convoluted way to let counties off the hook.
How is MDE letting counties off the hook?
With any new complex market-based initiative, the devil is in the details. Our devil: wastewater treatment plants. On all of Maryland’s water bills, there is a fee for the ‘BRF’- Bay Restoration Fund. This money goes towards upgrading Maryland’s wastewater treatment plants in order to decrease the amount of pollution that enters our waters. Waste water treatment plants have made the water coming out of them cleaner thanks to these taxpayer funds. Now the state is saying plants upgraded using taxpayer money can be a part of the nutrient trading program by trading credits to Maryland counties. And because of where the state set the baseline to be able to generate credits, many wastewater plants owned by the counties can essentially give a county all the credit for nutrient trading they would ever need without doing anything new at all to actually reduce any more pollution. For example, Anne Arundel county’s wastewater treatment plant is able to suddenly create enough credits equal to the county converting over 4,000 acres of polluting industrial parking lots and other polluting land cover to forests. By using average flow numbers for 2019, I calculated that together the waste water treatment plants in Maryland could trade away over 500,000 pounds worth of credits potentially for free. That is more credits than every single permit in the state would need combined.
Because of this loophole, most county owned sewage treatment plants have not invested a single dollar in pollution reduction projects, but may still get credits to sell in the nutrient trading program for reducing tens of thousands of pounds of nutrient pollution. If you really want to know how successful a program is, follow the money. If no money is invested, it means that there are no real new projects going into effect because of this program. If the counties are just doing a paper exercise, the price of a credit is effectively zero dollars. The price needs to be high enough to encourage farmers and others to put in place real practices above what they would already be doing. The trading program is also not incentivizing waste water treatment plants to create better pollution removal systems. They are generating credits based on money already invested years ago by you, the taxpayer. Right now, zero innovations are being funded through trading, and the market is in danger of crashing.
Confusing? That might be the point-
The whole system is incredibly complex and hard to follow. I didn’t even go into detail about how the nitrogen parts per million baselines at the wastewater treatment plants further complicates this issue or how permits are actually based on percentage of impervious area treated instead of each pollutant directly, etc. I think that right now, nutrient trading is a purposely complex way to make it look like the counties are doing far better at reducing pollution then they really are.
Why would the Hogan Administration do this?
We can agree that the trading program is complex and hard for the average Marylander to follow and understand. The Clean Water Act permits built to ensure counties reduce their polluted runoff are complicated too. Sound science-based policy often is complicated because the science behind it is complicated. A much simpler concept is a misleading term like the ‘Rain Tax.’ ‘Rain Tax’ was a rallying cry for this administration in the first election- they claimed that we could easily reduce the pollution we need to without counties using dedicated fees and funding that would pay for pollution-reducing projects. Saying that all the counties are doing great at reducing all the pollution they needed to without having to resort to polluted runoff fees, or as the administration called it in their empty political sloganeering, the ‘rain tax,’ is cheap, easy, and politically appealing. In some ways it is smart- make the problem so complex that getting folks to understand the problem let alone rallying people to fight it requires advanced degrees years of environmental policy experience. But Maryland deserves better. And we will need to do much better at controlling urban runoff as climate change continues to create more frequent and dangerous flood events. Now is not the time for political gimmicks.
Can the trading program be fixed?
I believe MDE could fix it. MDE has claimed verbally in meetings that trades with waste water treatment plants are temporary and can only be used to buy the counties time. MDE claims that counties will have to make up the pollution reduction with real projects in the next permit in addition to new levels of pollution reduction. However, we see no indication of this commitment in their written Watershed Implementation Plans they had to submit to the EPA earlier this summer or in the legally binding permits. We see some counties like Anne Arundel planning in their budgets to put in real projects later to make up for it and just ‘trading in time’ as they call it do buy them time, but others like Harford County are not planning on making up the gap with real projects budgeted in the future.
Without a clear indication of what is coming in the next permit, supposedly coming out at the end of the year, it is hard, if not impossible, for counties to properly budget funds for pollution-reducing projects. None of the county budgets indicate that they expect they will need to spend real money in the future to buy real credits. Meanwhile, some counties are seeing this as an opportunity to cut budgets. For example, Frederick County has cut their budget for projects by $2 million and Montgomery County slashed theirs even further.
The Hogan administration needs to make it clear that this type of trading for free with their own wastewater treatment plants will not stand. MDE needs to clearly show it is not weakening clean water permits with loopholes. Trading needs to be for real new projects and include practices that effectively reduce pollution. MDE needs to make a commitment that it will create a real demand-driven, closely regulated market that incentivizes new and innovative projects, or they need to shut the program down.
The frustrating part is that I still believe that if the state closed these loopholes, followed the Choose Clean Water Twelve Principles, and truly committed to the ideas behind the program, it really could be the market-based solution to efficiently reduce tens of thousands of pounds of pollution going into the Bay that we want it to be. MDE could still fix this program.
It is not my goal to criticize MDE for trying a creative new program, but I have given the program every benefit of the doubt. I have worked closely with MDE for months and testified at MDE hearings multiple times to air my concerns. While trading has improved in some areas, the fundamental flaws remain. If MDE truly wants to let counties off the hook on their commitment to reduce pollution, that is their purgative, (and we will continue to expose them for that) but why must the dream of the trading program be a casualty? Allowing free trading of already completed upgrades to waste water treatment plants makes the program into what its worst critics have been claiming it was all along – A dangerous sham that will let polluters in Maryland continue to dirty our waters.
Do you agree? Then send a comment into MDE. Details on how to comment here: https://mde.maryland.gov/programs/Water/StormwaterManagementProgram/Pages/storm_gen_permit.aspx
We are thrilled to announce that Kim Coble, one of Maryland’s most respected environmentalists, will be the new executive director of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters Education Fund. She will assume her new duties on October 15th.
Kim was the unanimous choice of our selection committee which has spent the last few weeks vetting and interviewing an amazing selection of outstanding candidates. In the end, we felt that Kim’s breadth of experience, significant management skills and inspiring vision for the organization made her an ideal candidate. We are thrilled to have her lead the organization as we seek to build on recent legislative triumphs and elevate Maryland to being a top-tier state in the effort to combat the climate crisis.
Many of you are very familiar with Kim’s important work in the environment space.
Most recently, Kim served as the Chief Operating Officer at US SIF: The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment. US SIF is a non-profit whose mission is to rapidly shift investment practices towards sustainability, focusing on long term investment and the generation of positive social and environmental impacts. In her role as COO, she oversaw the organization’s operations and helped develop its three-year strategic plan.
Prior to her role at US SIF, Kim worked at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, including eight years as the Maryland Executive Director and then six years as Vice President of Environmental Protection and Restoration where she oversaw CBF’s policy, outreach and restoration work throughout the watershed. Kim was selected as one of Maryland’s Top 100 Women in 2015, appointed as an Admiral of the Chesapeake Bay, served as the Valedictorian of her Leadership Maryland class and has been a member of the State Ethics Commission since 2015.
By Chuck Porcari, Interim Executive Director
Do you know a local Maryland Environmental Hero?
Once again, we will be honoring visionary work as we present our annual President Theodore Roosevelt Award! If a group or individual you know is doing great things to protect Maryland’s communities and natural places, with an eye towards both today and the future, please make sure you nominate them.
Formally, the award criteria states; “In recognition of the individual, group or organization whom through a specific action, event or body of work will leave a positive conservation legacy that mirrors the ethos of President Theodore R. Roosevelt.”
The winner will be recognized at a formal, public event hosted by the Maryland League of Conservation Voters Education Fund.
We encourage you to scour your areas of interest for worthy individuals, groups or formal organizations that you believe reflect this positive conservation ethos.
Thank you in advance for your efforts,
Chuck Porcari, Interim Executive Director
The 2017 Awardee was Emmitsburg Mayor Donald N. Briggs. Check out the blog post here.
2018 Awardee was Salisbury Mayor Jake Day. Check out the blog post here.
Karla Raettig, Maryland League of Conservation Voters
Environmental Community Statement on Del. Mary Ann Lisanti
Our organizations work together across Maryland on environmental issues. To us, that work is an integral part of the larger work for social justice. We strive to protect the natural world out of a concern for people, communities, and future generations. People can only thrive in a healthy ecosystem on a living planet. And too often, the same racism that has deprived people of color full access to wealth and opportunity has also deprived them of access to clean air and water.
Our organizations put our faith behind Harford County Delegate Mary Ann Lisanti as she emerged to play a leadership role in advancing a critical climate initiative for our communities. But Del. Lisanti’s racist outburst calls into question her respect for the leadership, staff, volunteers, and members of our organizations, as well as the people we advocate for.
Our organizations will not remain silent when the foundation of our work is to lift up communities engaging for our shared values across the state and to promote a healthy environment for all Marylanders. The act of crafting public policy as a Maryland elected official is a privilege and requires a fundamental respect for every person affected by those policies. With regard to Del. Lisanti’s comments in the Washington Post, alcohol is never an excuse for racism or racist behavior. Comparing racist epithets that dehumanize us, our partners, friends, and neighbors to mere profanity is equally unacceptable because it minimizes the past and present systems which weaponize difference.
We hope that Del. Lisanti will engage in rigorous soul-searching and anti-racism, anti-oppression training that could turn this offensive episode into a truly meaningful growth experience not just for herself, but also for her colleagues, constituents, the people of Maryland, and for everyone across the country who rejects implicit and explicit racism and hatred across our nation.
Our trust and confidence in her leadership is lost, especially on environmental issues that are core to our missions. Serving as a state elected official and being a state-wide leader on climate justice requires the full faith and trust of all Marylanders. Unfortunately, Delegate Lisanti spurned that trust and, as such, we believe the best course of action is for her to resign as a member of the House of Delegates.
Meanwhile, there is much work to be done. We urge Governor Hogan and the leadership of the Maryland Senate and Maryland House of Delegates to pass bold laws in 2019 that underscore our state’s commitment to progress in the areas of environmental health, economic justice, and racial equity as prescient matters of social justice.
Maryland Environmental Health Network
Sierra Club Maryland Chapter
Chesapeake Climate Action Network
Interfaith Power & Light (DC.MD.NoVA)
Maryland League of Conservation Voters (Maryland LCV)
Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of Maryland
Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility
Clean Water Action
Citizens Climate Lobby, Maryland
Food & Water Watch
The Earth Coalition
National Wildlife Federation Mid-Atlantic Regional Center
Maryland Conservation Council
Maryland LCV Education Fund Among the First Maryland nonprofit organization to join the American Flood Coalition
Update by Chuck Porcari, Maryland LCV Ed Fund Board Chair
After a year of devastating flooding and intense storms, it’s more apparent than ever that Maryland is on the frontlines of climate change and our communities, economy, and environment are all at risk.
That’s why I’m proud to announce that Maryland League of Conservation Voters Education Fund is the first Maryland group, individual or entity to join the American Flood Coalition, a non-partisan (c-3) multi state organization advocating for solutions to flooding and sea level rise. Check out our press release here.
The American Flood Coalition includes well over 100 political, military, business, and civic leaders and organizations that have come together to consider, educate themselves on, and implement infrastructure activities that support flood-affected coastal and inland communities. Our colleagues at Conservation Voters of South Carolina are also a member of this organization. The coalition website (floodcoalition.org) includes many more details.
As an example of their work, the American Flood Coalition released for their membership both an overview and technical guide for local and regional flood vulnerability assessments. The overview guide is designed for municipal elected officials, while the technical guide is designed to walk municipal staff through the process. We hope to include these resources in our climate and water quality work.
As Maryland LCV Ed Fund works to educate Marylanders on the inevitability and effects of sea-level rise, stronger and more frequent storms in both coastal and inland flood-prone areas, the work of the American Flood Coalition can be another tool in this effort.
By Chuck Porcari, Maryland LCV Ed Fund Board Chair
We created the President Theodore Roosevelt Award to recognize an individual, group, or organization in Maryland who through a specific action, event, or body of work leaves a positive conservation legacy that mirrors the ethos of President Roosevelt.
A champion of conservation, President Theodore Roosevelt was born on this day in 1858. Preserving the environment for future generations and protecting public lands wasn’t a political issue for Roosevelt, he took action because of his values. We were inspired by all of the individuals and groups nominated this year who act on their values to protect our air, land, water, and public health.
I am proud and excited to announce our second annual President Theodore Roosevelt Awardee, Salisbury Mayor, Jake Day! This award is to acknowledge his integral role in the ongoing renaissance of the downtown area of the city of Salisbury and his leadership.
Specifically, Mayor Day has led his community in rehabilitating the streetscape, revitalizing and reusing buildings, improving the river waterfront access, and beautifying efforts. Further, he was instrumental in Salisbury’s commitment to the unglamorous but vital work of improving a 100-year-old underground water and sewer infrastructure.
Join me in congratulating Mayor Day and join us in to celebrate his integral leadership role on the environment at an event to be determined in December.
In preparation for the November elections, we are hosting Voter Education Townhalls around the state to prepare voters in Maryland about issues that affect us all. In Baltimore, we will be talking about energy, climate change, environmental justice, trash and waste pollution, transportation, and voter registration and elections.
We’re joined by co-sponsors- Thank you to CCAN Action Fund, Interfaith Power & Light (MD.DC.NoVA), Clean Water Action Maryland, Blue Water Baltimore, Sierra Club Maryland Chapter, Preservation Maryland, HeadCount Baltimore, Maryland Pesticide Education Network, and Maryland Environmental Health Network! This event is sure to be a success.
Three events coming up: RSVP to one near you today:
1. Baltimore Town Hall
2. College Park Town Hall
3. Ocean City Voter Education Town Hall
By Ben Alexandro, Water Policy Advocate
In my previous work, I would bring a dozen bright eyed kids on science adventures. I helped lead the ‘Stream Scholars’ summer camp. Under every river stone was a critter they had never seen before that taught them about the health of these cool; clean streams. But as we traveled down the Potomac River, we saw farms, factories, yards, and construction sites that caused the river to be a bit dirtier and murkier. On a blistering summer day we approached the Chesapeake Bay and saw dozens of dead fish floating on the surface, in water as hot as bathwater. The students were shocked. How could we let our national treasure get this bad? How could there be a dead zone in the Bay where fish drown?
We told them it was not just the Chesapeake Bay. The world’s dead zones were growing. Off dozens of coasts throughout the world, there are areas of water that have so little dissolved oxygen during the summer that most aquatic life can’t survive.
The Mid-Atlantic States decided to do something about this problem. They got together to create a blueprint for the Chesapeake Bay and in 2009, President Obama signed an executive order with a plan to reach a new goal: by 2025, have all the practices in place that will clean the bay. Each state has a ‘diet’ of how much nutrients and sediment they could release into our waterways. The goals are to meet the target and eventually restore the Bay. If it works, it will be a model for the whole world. The students found new hope on this, but a couple states were concerned that 2025 was too far off. When will we know if the plan is working? They decided to take the Chesapeake Bay to school and assess the progress. The Bay’s midterm results were slated for 2018, which brings us to today.
On July 27, the EPA released their midpoint assessment to assess progress on the states goal of reducing pollution by 60%. For the first time in years, we are seeing real progress. Bay grasses are coming back; the dead zone is starting to shrink. The water is getting cleaner, but we still have a long way to go. The question is, how is Maryland doing?
We are making some progress. As a result of hard work of many sectors including farming and wastewater treatment plans, we nearly met our sediment and phosphorous goals. And with the help of several cost share programs, many Maryland farmers are managing their land to reduce runoff by planting cover crops to hold soil on the farm better and planting forests to buffer streams. Maryland also implemented the flush fee and raised enough money to upgrade our big wastewater treatment plants and in many cases the water coming out of our treatment plants is cleaner than the water in the river.
We need to pick up the pace. We only reduced 40% of the nitrogen pollution we needed to by 2025. Many are pointing to Pennsylvania or the Conowingo Dam saying that they are the source of the problem- particularly after the deluge of debris that came over the dam in this summer’s storms. Pennsylvania does have the biggest lift but the job is not over in Maryland either. We need to stop one million pounds of nitrogen from getting into the Bay every year. We need to pick up the pace and move even faster.
Although agricultural land is still the largest source of pollution, there is only one source of pollution that is still growing in Maryland. Polluted runoff in our towns, cities, and suburbs is the most expensive source of pollution to fix and the one our state is struggling with the most.
This is particularly a problem because big storms are happening more and more often with climate change. Instead of water naturally soaking into the ground and forest roots filtering the water, it is hitting roofs and blacktops, picking up speed and pollution, and flooding local streams. The rushing stormwaters carve out streambanks and dump pollution filled sediment into our rivers and Bay. We saw this in the news time and time again this summer- in Ellicott City, in Baltimore, over the Conowingo Dam, etc.
We have figured out ways to clean up this stormwater. Some areas have even created funds that charge those with the biggest, most urbanized properties to pay more into this fund. Localities can use this fund to fix this problem while beautifying the community by building rain gardens, restoring streams, greening streets, and replanting filtering forests around streams. This improves the community and creates jobs.
Examples of great projects reducing pollution can be found throughout the state. We even helped create this case story map to show some case stories of great projects. However, some have used these polluted runoff fees to score political points and repealed them without a plan for how stop this pollution, restore our local streams, or save the Bay. Other places like Prince George’s County have found that their polluted runoff fee–the ‘Rain Check’ program–gives people good paying jobs that don’t require advanced degrees. They have already treated 2,000 acres through projects creating $132 million in total economic impact of local spending. Thanks in part to their work, the Anacostia River has gotten its first passing grade in this year’s report card.
However, polluted runoff grows as suburbia continues to sprawl across the landscape. According to the new Chesapeake Bay Model, we could be losing a dozen acres of forest a day. Forests are the gold standard for water quality and work hard to filter out the water running off the land. We are expected to lose tens of thousands of acres of forests by 2025 unless we work harder to protect them.
The challenge in front of us may seem large, but we have overcome large ones in our past. We’ve come a long way since the days when rivers were literally on fire. Now we have a new challenge, but need a renewed commitment and investment to get it done. We need more projects, strong permits to make sure everyone is pulling their fair share, more funding for reforestation, and policies that make sure we are smarter by the way we use land.
We have answered the easy questions, and now need to move on to the tough solutions and get the job done. The countdown to 2025 is on!