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|04-10-2012, 10:34 AM||#1|
Member Since: Feb 2001
Legislature Takes Steps to Restore Chesapeake Bay
This in from the Maryland League of Conservation Voters (MDLCV):
Maryland Legislature Takes Steps to Restore the Chesapeake Bay Watershed but the Senate Came up Short on Offshore Wind
Annapolis – The 2012 General Assembly Session started off to be one of the best sessions for the environment in history, with several strong conservation bills introduced by Governor O’Malley and legislative leaders, but as the clock wound down on the last day of the Session, it became clear that while the legislature took steps to restore the Chesapeake Bay and our waters, they failed to lead on developing offshore wind and cleaning up trash from our local waters.
A package of legislation to improve water quality, create jobs, protect public health and reduce flooding has passed in the 2012 General Assembly session. The bills would increase the Bay Restoration Fund to finish wastewater treatment plant upgrades (SB 240 / HB 446), require the state’s largest jurisdictions to create a dedicated fee to reduce polluted stormwater runoff (SB 614 / HB 987), and reduce pollution from poorly planned development and septic systems (SB 236 / HB 445).
The General Assembly Session also started strong with an offshore wind bill backed by Governor Martin O’Malley—Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2012 (SB 237/ HB 441). The bill passed the House of Delegates with a vote of 88–47 and received a strong majority support in numerous statewide polls but died when a final vote could not be found in the Senate Finance Committee.
The Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2012 would have incentivized the construction of ocean-based wind turbines ten miles or more off the coast of Ocean City, Maryland. The legislation included multiple provisions to protect consumers and to stimulate Maryland’s economy.
The Senate failed to act despite, 127 business, civic, faith and minority leaders declaring their support for Maryland offshore wind power. That list includes a dozen groups like the NAACP and the Economic Development and Training Institute, 79 small businesses and 36 faith leaders and ministers along with conservation groups including the Maryland League of Conservation Voters, the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, the Sierra Club Maryland Chapter, Environment Maryland, the National Wildlife Federation, the League of Women Voters, the Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry, and Greater Washington Interfaith Power & Light.
“Although we applaud the steps taken to protect and restore our state’s waterways, we are disappointed that the Senate did not respond to the growing demand from all areas of the state to take put Maryland in front on offshore wind” said Karla Raettig, Executive Director of Maryland League of Conservation Voters. “This fight is not over and we are looking ahead to next session as well as to the 2014 legislative elections where citizens can ensure that legislators are held accountable for their lack of action.”
Unfortunately another casualty of the session included the Community Clean Up and Greening Act (HB1247/SB511), commonly known as the “Bag Fee bill.” This bill would have reduced trash across Maryland by adding a $.05 fee to all bags provided by retail outlets like similar bills in Washington DC and Montgomery County. The Bag Fee died in committee weeks before the end of the legislative session.
Raettig continued, “We commend the leadership of Gov. O’Malley and our champions like Chairman Dereck Davis, Chairman Mac Middleton, Chairman Maggie McIntosh as well as leaders like Sen. Paul Pinsky and Del. Tom Hucker but we look forward to 2014 when the voice of voters will have their say on the performance of those legislators who talk a big game on issues like clean energy but don’t deliver.”
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|04-10-2012, 10:54 AM||#2|
Member Since: Jul 2009
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