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Celebrate Earth Today

By Laura Wood, Development Director

Like us, we hope you’re enjoying, exploring, and taking refuge in Maryland’s great outdoors during this unprecedented time. Let’s all celebrate our natural environment today, the 50th anniversary of Earth Day!

Today is such a reminder of how important it is that we protect the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the land on which we live. 

We are watchdogs – guardians of our environment – protecting Maryland’s natural resources not only for us, but for our children and future generations.

With your support, the Maryland League of Conservation Voters will work to ensure pro-conservation leaders are elected, and then hold them accountable through our scorecard and policy advocacy.

Only by transforming our political system and electing environmental champions will we create the opportunity to take the bold action needed on climate change.

Celebrate the 50th Earth Day and donate $50 to Maryland League of Conservation Voters now.

Together, we can raise the political voice that is needed to protect Maryland’s environment for the future.

Stay well and healthy,

Laura Wood, Development Director

P.S. Interested in a tax deduction? Make your gift to the Maryland League of Conservation Voters Education Fund here.Even if you don’t itemize on your taxes, thanks to the COVID-19 Relief Bill, your contribution could be tax-deductible up to $300 (consult your tax advisor for more information).

 

2020 Legislative Wrap Up

By Kim Coble, Executive Director

This year’s post-session wrap-up is coming three weeks before it normally would, due to these unprecedented times.  What is normally a recap of what bills did or didn’t pass, this year we need to look at things through a slightly fuzzier lens: what passed, what didn’t pass due to legislative inaction, and what was abruptly discarded due to a public health crisis.

At the time the session was curtailed, Maryland LCV and the environmental community were on track to have a successful legislative session, with strong, ambitious legislation passing in the sectors of transportation, energy, resiliency, water, and agriculture.

Unfortunately, as the coronavirus required us to socially distance ourselves, it also meant many of those bills ended up on the figurative cutting room floor. We are still proud of the progress we made, which sets us up for future success. The groundwork we laid on key issues is essential as we face the global crisis of climate change.

There were literally dozens of bold, visionary bills presented this session, most of which were not passed. Here are some of the highlights:

To see the full legislative summary, go here.

Oysters: One of the clearest victories of the year was to further protect our oysters. The veto of last year’s bill – creating an oyster fisheries management program – was overridden. A corrective bill to fix the dates complicated by the veto’s delay passed both chambers unanimously.

  • HB720-19/SB830-19 (Barve/Elfreth)Natural Resources – Fishery Management Plans – Oysters
  • HB911/SB808 (Gilchrist/Elfreth)Natural Resources – Fishery Management Plans – Oysters

Resiliency: In the face of a public health emergency, the necessity of preparing for emergencies brought on by climate change came into sharper relief.  A bill that gives counties the bonding authority for resiliency projects passed, as did one that allows the Bay Restoration Fund to be used to support similar efforts under limited circumstances.

  • HB78/SB172 (Watson/Hester)Bay Restoration Fund-Authorized Uses
  • HB539/SB457 (Watson/Elfreth)Local Governments – Resilience Authorities – Authorization

Pesticides: After a pitched battle, the General Assembly passed a phase-out ban of Chlorpyrifos – a dangerous pesticide connected to negative health impacts in children.

  • HB229/SB300 (Stein/Lam)Pesticides – Use of Chlorpyrifos – Prohibition

Several bills were blocked by negative votes, departmental opposition, or deliberate legislative inaction:

  • HB432/SB423 (Korman/Zucker)Zero-Emission Bus Transition Act – This bill would have mandated that all future purchases in the state’s transit bus fleets be for electric vehicles.  It passed the House and the Budget and Tax Committee in the Senate, but an abstention in the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee gave it an untimely unfavorable vote.
  • HB98/SB168 (Davis/Kelley)Electricity – Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard – Qualifying Biomass: This bill would have removed “black liquor” from the resources receiving subsidies as a clean energy resource as part of Renewable Portfolio Standard. This bill received an unfavorable vote in the Senate Finance Committee.

Transportation: A number of important bills were introduced that would have made considerable progress in our transportation sector by adequately funding existing public transportation systems, and transitioning the entire fleet of state vehicles and buses, as well as private vehicles, to electric. Of these, the bill to adequately fund public transit came the closest to making it through both chambers, passing on a party line vote in the House of Delegates but not receiving a vote in the Senate:

  • HB368/SB424 (Lierman/Zucker):  Transit Safety and Investment Act: Passed house

Energy: Maryland has made great strides in recent years to transform our energy sector from polluting fossil fuels to clean and renewable energy.  The urgency of the climate crisis inspired dozens of bills to address the energy production and use sector.  The three bills that made progress before the abrupt end to session promoted architectural changes to state-owned buildings to reduce energy consumption (and protect birds), required the Public Service Commission to consider climate impacts when approving projects, and updating our state emission reductions goals while offering tangible steps to reach those goals. Each of these received votes in one chamber, but failed to advance in the second due to time-restrictions.

  • HB192/SB299 (Hill/Guzzone-Lam) – Maryland Sustainable Buildings Act: Passed house
  • HB531/SB656 (Charkoudian/Kramer) – Utility Regulation-Consideration of Climate and Labor: Passed senate
  • HB1425/SB926 (Stein/Pinsky) – Climate Solutions Act of 2020:  Passed both senate committees

Resiliency: While we work to lessen the effects of climate change, our state also must move to protect our communities and environment from the crises that we are facing right now. A suite of bills worked to confront these concerns, including one creating a State Resilience Office at the Emergency Management Service and another that created an ombudsman in the Attorney General’s office to facilitate environmental enforcement and transparency of data.

  • HB614/SB460 (Lierman/Elfreth) – Environmental Accountability and Transparency Act: Passed senate
  • SB721 (Hester) – Emergency Management – Chief Resilience Officer – Appointment and Duties: Passed senate

Water: While the oyster legislation was a strong victory for Maryland’s waterways, other bills that would have addressed the health of our waters failed to make it over the finish line, despite a strong start. One, that would have created better systems of licensing for septic system inspectors who are on the front line of preventing septic run-off into our waterways, failed to reach the priority level to move to the floor in the last days.  The other would have banned plastic bags at check-out throughout the state, which moved to the senate floor on the last day of the abbreviated session and failed to make it through second reader.

  • SB254 (Young) – On-site Sewage Disposal Systems – Inspection – Licensing: Passed senate
  • HB209/SB313 (Lierman/Augustine) Plastics and Packaging Reduction Act: Passed house

Thanks to your online advocacy (over 6,000 emails to legislators!), calls to your legislators (almost 250 patch-thru calls!), in person lobby visits, and attending rallies in Annapolis we were able to make the progress we did make. The work you do is essential to protecting our air, land, water, and communities. 

Advancing strong environmental legislation is essential as we face the global crisis of climate change. As the environmental watchdog in Maryland, we will be keeping a close watch over the special session planned for May and we plan to release a 2020 Environmental Scorecard in the coming months.

Thank you for being a conservation voter,

Kim Coble, Maryland LCV
Executive Director

The full legislative summary is here.

Stay connected with us while practicing social distancing:

  

Long-time Environmental Champions join Maryland LCV

By Ed Hatcher, Board Chair

Nothing is more important than protecting the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the land on which we live, and these issues are even more urgent because of the climate crisis and now the coronavirus outbreak.

The public health crisis has made the Maryland LCV team more determined than ever to advance our mission of keeping elected officials responsive and accountable to each and every one of us.

That’s why I am thrilled to announce our two new board members Stuart Clarke and Steve Lafferty.

Stuart and Steve are long-time environmental champions well suited to advance our mission of accountability during these challenging times. They will also be important players as we work to make Maryland a national leader in what can be done at the state level to combat climate change.

Stuart is vice president of strategic initiatives for University of Maryland Center for Environmental Sciences (UMCES). Steve is a former Maryland State delegate and now Baltimore County’s chief sustainability officer.

We are thrilled to welcome these two long-time environmental champions onto our board. Maryland LCV is working to make Maryland a national leader in demonstrating what can be done at the state level to combat climate change. Stuart and Steve will be important players in our efforts.

Stuart Clarke

 

STUART CLARKE

Before joining UMCES, Clarke served as the executive director of the Town Creek Foundation, a private philanthropic foundation dedicated to a sustainable environment. He has also acted as co-chair of the Maryland Climate Commission,  and as a trustee for Greenpeace USA.

Stuart earned a graduate degree in political science from Yale University. He and his family reside on the Eastern Shore.

Hon. Steve Lafferty

STEVE LAFFERTY

Steve served in the Maryland House of Delegates from 2007 to 2019, where he was a leader on issues related to the environment and land use. A longtime resident of the Towson area, he has previously served as the Howard County deputy director of planning and zoning, and as director of special projects for the Howard County executive.

Lafferty earned a master of arts degree from Bowling Green State University, and a J.D. from the University of Baltimore School of Law.

Together with you, Maryland LCV’s staff and board of directors are working to ensure a healthy future for all our communities, neighborhoods, and families.

Here’s to more good work to protect Maryland’s environment,

Ed

Ed Hatcher, Maryland LCV Board Chair
PS: At Maryland LCV we care deeply about our staff, supporters, and fellow humans across the country. That’s why we are putting in place all the precautionary measures we can. For the immediate future, Maryland LCV has suspended all activities that would require people to come together in the same room. All staff are teleworking, all meetings will be via video conference and all events are cancelled.
By |2020-03-31T19:31:59-04:00March 31st, 2020|Categories: Blog, Successes|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Top Environmental Advocacy Group touts legislative victories with truncated legislative session

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 18, 2020

Contact: Dannielle Lipinski,  dlipinski@mdlcv.org

Top Environmental Advocacy Group touts legislative victories with truncated legislative session

Annapolis, MD – For the first time since the Civil War, the Maryland General Assembly has ended ahead of schedule in order to help combat the spread of the coronavirus. Alongside crucial legislation to assist our state through this crisis, our elected leaders worked hard to protect our air, land, water, and communities.

“We applaud the members and staff of the Maryland General Assembly and the Department of General Services for their diligence, leadership and commitment during extraordinary circumstances. They exemplified that when we work together, we can achieve great things.  Marylanders are fortunate our leaders accomplished top priority actions while also protecting public health.” Kim Coble, Executive Director of Maryland League of Conservation Voters.

A few shining examples of their efforts include passage of an essential oyster bill and banning the dangerous pesticide, chlorpyrifos. The Oyster Fisheries Management Act creates a new collaborative process and opportunities to improve oyster fishery management. The ban on chlorpyrifos is one of the first in the nation to take effect. The legislators also worked on a suite of bills that assist with community resiliency around the climate crisis. Lawmakers passed these in the final hours of session. 

And some bills simply suffered from time running out and the legislative session ending early due to the coronavirus pandemic. A number of our priority bills were passed out of one chamber but there wasn’t enough time for the second chamber to move the bills. These organizational priorities were the Transit Safety and Investment Act to fully fund MTA, the Maryland Sustainable Buildings Act, and the Plastics and Packaging Reduction Act, which would have prohibited the use of single-use bags. 

While some bills were not able to cross the finish line because of lack of time in an abbreviated session, several were blocked by negative votes or deliberate inaction including removing trash incineration from the Renewable Portfolio Standard, the Clean Coal Community Transition Act, and a bill to electrify the MTA Bus Fleet.

Advancing strong environmental legislation is essential as we face the global crisis of climate change. Maryland LCV will be keeping a close watch over the special session planned for May and has plans to release a 2020 Environmental Scorecard in the coming months.

# # #

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.

By |2020-03-18T20:38:41-04:00March 18th, 2020|Categories: Blog, Press|Tags: , |0 Comments

Special Update: Coronavirus, the environment and the legislative session

By Kim Coble, Executive Director

At Maryland LCV we care deeply about our staff, supporters, and fellow humans across the country. That’s why we are putting in place all the precautionary measures we can. For the immediate future, Maryland LCV has suspended all activities that would require people to come together in the same room. All staff are teleworking, all meetings will be via video conference and all events are cancelled.

If nothing else, the COVID-19 outbreak highlights the importance of a government that quickly and efficiently funds and enacts policies that benefit people and our communities. This public health crisis has made me more determined than ever to ensure we have a government and elected officials who are responsive and accountable to each and everyone of us.

As of this writing, the Maryland legislature is adjourning on Wednesday, March 18th. The first time since the Civil War that the legislative session has been cut short. However, our important work to protect Maryland’s air, land, water, and communities is continuing and we are urging the Maryland General Assembly to focus on a few key environmental bills before they close the doors on Wednesday.

And we could use your help! You can take action from the comfort of your home by checking out our Action Alert Center and sending an email to your legislators today. To find out who your state legislator is, please click here.

The environmental priorities that are a top priority and could pass in the next two days include:

I hope you are taking measures to stay safe and informed. And when you are not sending emails to your legislator, you can find updates on the Covid-19 outbreak from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and Maryland’s health authorities.

Thank you and take care,

Kim Coble, Maryland LCV
Executive Director

Stay connected with us while practicing social distancing:

  

Maryland LCV Announces Delegation Scores from LCV’s 2019 National Environmental Scorecard

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 12, 2020
Contact: Dannielle Lipinski, dlipinski@mdlcv.org , 443-617-7257

Maryland LCV Announces Delegation Scores from LCV’s 2019 National Environmental Scorecard

Annapolis, MD – Maryland LCV today released the Maryland delegation’s scores on the League of Conservation Voters’ 2019 National Environmental Scorecard. The Scorecard is the primary yardstick for evaluating the environmental records of every member of Congress, and is available for download here, in Spanish here, and online at scorecard.lcv.org

“As the Trump administration continues to roll back environmental protections and actively put our health at risk, Congressman Andy Harris refused to stand up for Maryland’s air, water, land, and communities,” said Maryland LCV’s Executive Director, Kim Coble. “Instead of rubber stamping Trump and Mitch McConnell’s polluter agenda, we need our representatives in Congress to fight for Maryland’s communities — and thankfully we can count on Senators Cardin and Van Hollen to push back. We’re more determined than ever before to hold members of Congress accountable for denying our families’ fundamental rights to clean air, safe drinking water and a healthy environment.”

The 2019 Scorecard measures votes cast during the first session of the 116th Congress. In Maryland, seven House members and Senators Cardin and Van Hollen earned a score of 95 percent or greater, while one House member earned an abysmal score of 10 percent or less. The average House score for Maryland was 85 percent and the average Senate score was 100 percent. The full delegation’s scores for 2019 are:

Senator Cardin – 100%

Senator Van Hollen – 100%

Representative Harris – 0%

Representative Ruppersberger – 97%

Representative Sarbanes – 97%

Representative Brown – 97%

Representative Hoyer – 97%

Representative Trone – 97%

Representative Cummings* – 100%

Representative Raskin – 100 %

 “We are grateful to Speaker Pelosi and her pro-environment majority for prioritizing climate action and protections of our air, water, lands, wildlife, and democracy,” said LCV Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld. “While pro-environment leaders supported policies that will protect communities across the country, especially low-income communities and communities of color, from the negative impacts of climate change-fueled extreme heat, natural disasters, and toxic pollution last year, Senate Majority Leader McConnell’s refusal to act on hundreds of important House-passed bills put the health of our children and families at risk for the benefit of his corporate polluter friends.”

When Congress fails to protect our fundamental rights to clean air and safe drinking water, our communities are the ones most impacted,” said National Director of LCV’s Chispa program, Johana Vicente. “We are incredibly thankful for the environmental champions in both chambers of Congress who stood up and fought for us in 2019. We will not forget the senators who voted against the health of our families when they sided with Trump and polluters time and again.”

The 2019 Scorecard includes 35 House votes that span the chamber’s assaults on clean air and water, lands and wildlife protections, investments in clean energy and so much more. In the Senate, the majority of the 14 votes scored are confirmation votes on Trump’s anti-environmental nominees.

LCV has published a National Environmental Scorecard every Congress since 1970. The Scorecard represents the consensus of experts from about 20 respected environmental and conservation organizations who selected the key votes on which members of Congress should be scored. LCV scores votes on the most important issues of the year, including energy, climate change, public health, public lands and wildlife conservation, and spending for environmental programs. The votes included in the Scorecard presented members of Congress with a real choice and help distinguish which legislators are working for environmental protection. More information on individual votes and the Scorecard archive can be found at scorecard.lcv.org.

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By |2020-03-12T12:24:56-04:00March 12th, 2020|Categories: Blog, Press, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Stuart Clarke and Steve Lafferty Join Maryland League of Conservation Voters’ Board

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 10, 2020

Contact:
Dannielle Lipinski, dlipinski@mdlcv.org, 443-617-7257

Stuart Clarke and Steve Lafferty Join Maryland League of Conservation Voters’ Board

Annapolis, MD – Maryland League of Conservation Voters has announced that University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s Vice President of Strategic Initiatives’ Stuart Clarke and Baltimore County’s Chief Sustainability Officer Steve Lafferty have joined its board of directors.

“We are thrilled to welcome these two long-time environmental champions onto our board,” said Ed Hatcher, chair of Maryland LCV’s board. “Maryland LCV is working to make Maryland a national leader in demonstrating what can be done at the state level to combat climate change. Stuart and Steve will be important players in our efforts.”

Before joining UMCES, Clarke served as the executive director of the Town Creek Foundation, a private philanthropic foundation dedicated to a sustainable environment. His previous philanthropic experience includes assignments as a program officer with the Turner Foundation managing a grant-making portfolio including national water quality and environmental protection and as development director of the Southern Partners Fund supporting social justice organizing in the South. He has also served as co-chair of the Maryland Climate Commission, which provides governance for State initiatives to address climate change, and as a trustee for Greenpeace USA.

“I am pleased and grateful to have been invited to join the Maryland League of Conservation Voters’ board. Maryland LCV’s role in advancing environmental protections and expanding civic space is as important today as it has ever been. I look forward to working with my new colleagues to help keep Maryland at the forefront of environmental and democratic progress,” said Clarke.

Steve Lafferty served in the Maryland House of Delegates from 2007 to 2019, where he was a leader on issues related to the environment and land use. He now serves as the sustainability officer of Baltimore County. He served as chair of the Baltimore County House Delegation, and chair of the Subcommittee on Land Use and Ethics and the Subcommittee on the Environment. A longtime resident of the Towson area, he has previously served as the Howard County deputy director of planning and zoning and as director of special projects for the Howard County Executive. Lafferty earned a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Maryland, a master of arts from Bowling Green State University, and a J.D. from the University of Baltimore School of Law.

“It is a thrill to be asked to join the Board of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters,” said Lafferty. “I have had the opportunity to work with the staff and board members for nearly 15 years on major environmental issues in Maryland. They recognize that strong and thoughtful elected leaders will make the difference in setting policies for our state. I look forward to joining them in their advocacy for a better environment.”

Maryland League of Conservation Voters is the 501c4 organization that serves as the political voice for the environment. Maryland League of Conservation Voters Education Fund serves as the 501c3 organization and helps to educate and engage citizens and elected officials on key environmental issues.

Maryland League of Conservation Voters Board of Directors:

Ed Hatcher, Chair
Maris St Cyr, Vice Chair
Mike Davis
Hon. Virginia Clagett
Stuart Clarke
Candace Dodson Reed
Verna Harrison
Melanie Hartwig-Davis
Lynn Heller
Bonnie Norman
Kitty Thomas
Stuart Clarke
Hon. Steve Lafferty

Maryland League of Conservation Voters Education Fund Board of Directors:

Chuck Porcari, Chair
Joy Blackwood
Beth Blauer
Lance Davis
Larissa Johnson

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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.

By |2020-03-10T10:49:31-04:00March 10th, 2020|Categories: Blog, Press|Tags: , |0 Comments

Catholics to Rally and Lobby in Support of Key Environmental Legislation in Maryland

SILVER SPRING, Md., February 28, 2020 – Catholics from around the State of Maryland will gather in Annapolis on Monday, March 2, for a Teach-In and Lobby Night in support of key environmental legislation advancing in the Maryland General Assembly. The event will be organized by Maryland Catholics for Our Common Home (MCCH), a lay-led group of concerned Catholics from parishes in both the Archdiocese of Baltimore and the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.

Working in cooperation with Chispa Maryland, the Latino outreach program of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters, MCCH members will meet with their legislators to express their support for five bills that they believe exemplify key principles of Catholic Social Teaching:
• SB926 / HB 1425: Climate Solutions Act of 2020 – Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act
• SB 887 / HB 1545: Electric Generation Transition from Fossil Fuels – Carbon Dioxide Emissions Rate and Transition Account (Coal Transition)
• HB 368 / SB 424: Transit Safety and Investment Act
• HB 438 / SB 560: Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard – Eligible Sources
• SB 313 / HB 209: Plastics and Packaging Reduction Act

In addition to their personal advocacy, MCCH members will be bringing a statement of support for these five bills signed by hundreds of Catholics from across Maryland.

“I am eager to participate in lobby night in Annapolis as part of Maryland Catholics for Our Common Home,” stated Sandra Perez, a parishioner and staff member at St. Camillus Church in Silver Spring, Maryland. “As an immigrant from Central America, I am well aware of the connection between climate and migration crises. As both a Catholic and U.S. citizen, I have a moral obligation to speak up and support policies that help to clean up our environment and promote environmental justice at home and abroad.”

“Catholic teaching connects the principle of care for creation with giving priority to the needs of the poor and concern for and solidarity with workers, and we think these bills reflect that comprehensive vision,” stated Bob Simon, a MCCH member and organizer for this event. “These five bills align Maryland’s climate goals with current science and international agreements supported by Pope Francis, heed his call to move from polluting sources of energy to renewables ‘without delay,’ address shortfalls in public transportation that disproportionately affect low-income communities, and address the blight of plastics pollution that is a consequence of what Pope Francis has described as our ‘throwaway culture.’ We hope the General Assembly enacts all five bills, as well as other legislation that would protect the environment of our common home.”

The MCCH event on Monday, March 2, will begin with a teach-in and prayer service at 4:30 P.M. at the historic Carroll House on the campus of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 107 Duke of Gloucester Street, Annapolis. After the conclusion of the prayer service, participants will walk to the Maryland House of Delegates building to convene and then to fan out to appointments with Members and staff of the General Assembly from their districts.

Last year, MCCH focused its advocacy on the passage of the Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Act, as part of the broad coalition that sucessfully moved that bill to enactment.

Contact: Bob Simon
Maryland Catholics for Our Common Home
301-887-7458
robertmsimon@gmail.com

By |2020-02-28T14:02:12-05:00February 28th, 2020|Categories: Press|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Another Captain for the Planet

By Captain Donald Lawson

I am an avid sailor, educator, and in just a few months, I’m going to become the first African American man to attempt 12 world records, including the fastest person to sail around the globe, solo — thanks to a clean energy-powered sailboat.  

Growing up in Baltimore, I didn’t spend as much time near the water as you might think for living in a coastal community. But, when I was nine I had the opportunity to go sailing with the Living Classroom Foundation’s Lady Maryland program. This event introduced me to sailing and changed my life forever. The sense of freedom I felt steering the boat that day has stayed with me for all these years — it has influenced my dreams and shaped the direction of my career. 

The Captain of the Lady Maryland told me I could sail around the world one day — and I believed him.

From a young age, I noticed the stark racial and socioeconomic disparities of the boating and sailing community around the East Coast. Over the years, I have seen very few people of color on the water sailing, racing, or competing. In fact, African Americans currently hold ZERO world records in sailing and there are very few opportunities for young people of color to experience the joy of sailing as I did. 

As I went on to attend Morgan State University and studied engineering, I had the opportunity to teach sailing at the Downtown Sailing Center, Getaway Sailing and the US Naval Academy. It was important for me not only to excel on my own but to change this system. With my captain’s license from Annapolis School of Seamanship in hand, I was ready to share my knowledge for sailing with my community and invest in sharing my passion with young people —  just as my mentors Bruce Schwab and Dame Ellen MacArthur had done for me. I have spent years teaching and inspiring young people of color about the maritime industry, careers on the water, and the joy of sailing.

But, it wasn’t easy. Even with all my personal success as a sailor and educator, I struggled to find acceptance and support in certain areas of the maritime community. I was often doubted, rejected, and scrutinized for being a different face on the racecourse. But through the struggle, my drive only became stronger and my goals more meaningful. I knew it was my mission to change this narrative for others. That’s why I worked every day to give minorities and low-income students access to resources that I didn’t have starting off. 

And now, I am ready to do even more to change the sailing and boating community by beginning my journey to become the first African American man to set multiple world records in sailing. During this process, I will educate, inspire, and promote businesses owned by minorities and businesses that support the community.

What’s more, I will prove that you can win when you use sustainable energy sources by sailing with boats powered almost entirely by 100% clean energy. 

One thing that my decades of sailing experience have taught me is that being eco-friendly is not only a personal moral obligation but also an advantage when sailing.  My racing boat will be equipped with solar panels, hydro-generators, a wind vane, and a biodiesel engine. Each clean energy system will offer major speed and efficiency advantages at certain points of my voyage. In addition,

I’ll be able to go 15% to 25% faster than the average sailor since I won’t need to carry large quantities of fuel.

2020 is a big year for me, my team, and my sponsors. In the next few months, we will acquire the boat that will carry me through these records, and in the spring not only will my journey begin — but I will start a speaking tour to share my stories with communities across the country and make sailing more accessible for all people. And the educational opportunities don’t stop there. I will also be creating three separate documentaries with my non-profit partner, Independent Arts and Media, to chronicle my journey and create interesting, educational materials for sailors and non-sailors alike. Our first Documentary entitled: Dark Seas: The Legacy of African American Solo Sailors, will look into the stories of sailors who came before me, the history and rules of record-breaking and finally my program and our goals.

Becoming the first African American man to set a world record in sailing AND the fastest man to circumnavigate the globe means more to me than personal gain. It means elevating my community and bringing honor to my hometown of Baltimore, Maryland. It means becoming the kind of role model to the young members of my community that I wish I had in my childhood. It means uplifting and carrying businesses and organizations that are led by and support people of color through this victory with me. But the most important goal I want to achieve is to leave a lasting Legacy in the world — and inspire others to follow their dreams to do the same.

 ____________________________________________________________

I am very grateful to have my team’s first set of partners: LCV, Harlem Brewing Company, Living Classroom Foundation, WSSRC, Alyte Consulting and IAM for believing in me and the vision.

 There is still an opportunity for additional businesses and organizations to join our crew! If you are interested, feel free to email us: donald@captaindonaldlawson.com

 If you want to get involved and support Captain Lawson with his project, please donate to his documentary fund: https://www.artsandmedia.net/cause/dark-seas-documentary

Originally posted on LCV

They say Never Fall in Love with a Bill

By Kristen Harbeson

The conventional wisdom in Annapolis is that you never should fall in love with a bill – because it’s too hard to let it go when it changes or dies.  I’ve never been very good at not falling in love with the bills on which I work. I spend countless hours getting to know each of them, crafting them, getting to know their quirks, strengths, and weaknesses, believing in their value, and fighting for them. I don’t know how to do that without falling in love – and in truth, I don’t think very many people do.

But as one of my favorite authors, Madeleine L’Engle, wrote about her marriage, “the growth of love is not a straight line, but a series of hills and valleys.”  The rest of the book (which is called A Two Part Invention if you’re interested) talks about how navigating those hills and valleys are about finding the way between where to hold fast and where to accept change, and also that sometimes when things are darkest, it’s important to take a minute to appreciate unexpected light.

This week, which saw hearings on two of our biggest priority bills.

The ban on Chlorpyrifos had several hours long hearings in both the House and Senate Committees. We put our best arguments forward – talking about the extreme dangers of the pesticide to the health of our communities, especially children, and our environment, and presenting the case for effective alternative treatments.  The opponents talked about the problems with banning the chemical, outlining the dangers of hard-to-kill pests to crops and the livelihood of the farmers, pleading for “last resort” exemptions.

The other bill is the ban on plastic bags and it was heard in the House of Delegates. Our coalition outlined the problems of plastic bags to the climate, waterways, and in our communities.  We explained how a 10c cost to paper bags at check-out ensures that businesses aren’t forced to raise prices, especially in low-income communities – and is necessary to drive the behavior change that actually reduces litter. Opponents argued there could be an unintended consequence to low-income communities from having to pay for bags that once had been given out for free.

The next step for both of these bills is to work with the committees to find the path through compromising and maintaining bill integrity to a bill we can support. How do we keep the legislation as strong as possible and address reasonable concerns outlined by opponents. How do we bring new people onto the path with us without losing key partners and allies? It can be a difficult process, and the path is definitely not a straight line.

These are the days, though, when I tend to look around at my colleagues (both in and out of the environmental community) and realize that I am not alone. We all have once again – for better or worse – fallen in love with our bills, but it’s really because we love Maryland, the General Assembly, and the process of passing laws we think make the world better. And that realization brings unexpected light in the deepest valleys.

Session step count: 184,432

Session mile count: 81.2 (From Waterworks Park in Annapolis to South Mountain Park in Boonsboro)

Mountain climbed: Piton de la Petite Riviere Noire in Mauritiuzs

By |2020-02-20T15:51:44-05:00February 20th, 2020|Categories: Blog|Tags: , |0 Comments