Circles within circles

Weekly Counter

The weekly counter of our Political Director

By Kristen Harbeson, Political Director

There are a lot of analogies to describe Annapolis during the legislative session. One of my favorites is thinking of it as a dance: spinning, and turning, passing hand to hand; dozens of interactions, sometimes brief and sometimes lengthy, that ultimately creates a community. Circles within circles, everyone relentlessly moving through the steps of the dance that does not end until Sine Die, the last day of session. 

I was reminded of the nature of the community last week. When an emergency took me away from Session immediately after it began, the legislative work didn’t miss a beat. The Maryland LCV family and our coalition partners all stepped in to make sure that, while I took care of urgent family business, none of the important work we do together suffered: the dance continued. 

Coming back on Monday I was able to jump right back into the circle, only slightly disoriented with having missed a few rounds of the routine. The community is also extremely caring: While we all have our roles – legislator, aide, and advocate – we all are people first, and the human connections can be both strong and affirming. It’s one of the many reasons I love this job and this world. 

This week’s work was visiting legislative offices with the “blue backs” (in the House) and “white backs” (in the Senate) of our priority bills. These are literally copies of the bills, where legislators can sign their names as cosponsors before the bills are introduced.

 Asking for cosponsors helps us to determine the level of support for a particular bill (signing on as a co-sponsor is a strong commitment of support), and an opportunity to answer the questions that legislators and their staffs may have on our bills. Walking into their offices also, sometimes, gives the legislators a chance to say “hey! I wanted to talk to you about this other bill I’m thinking about. Do you have a minute?” 

Last week we were walking around two priority bills: the Plastic Bag ban and the ban on Chlorpyrifos – which I will talk more about in the weeks to come. Both of these are just about ready to move to their next step – being “read out” on the floor and assigned to a committee for a hearing date. We’ll be doing the same process next week with other bills, as the steps of the dance become ever more complicated (and interesting!).

Statement from Kim Coble, Executive Director Maryland LCV

January 9, 2020
Immediate Release

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

Statement from Kim Coble, Executive Director Maryland League of Conservation Voters in Response to:
Governor Hogan’s intentions to take legal action against EPA and Pennsylvania regarding the Chesapeake Bay Clean Up Plan.

The Maryland League of Conservation Voters applauds Governor Hogan and Attorney General Frosh for prioritizing the clean-up of the Chesapeake Bay. Their pursuit of legal actions is crucial to ensure that the Chesapeake Bay Clean Up Plan is implemented and a clean Chesapeake Bay is achieved. If EPA continues to abdicate its responsibility to restore the Chesapeake, Marylanders need to know that our elected leaders will respond appropriately.

Additionally, we urge the Hogan Administration to prioritize clean water by fully funding state agencies that work to implement the plan, taking meaningful action to protect the oyster population, and implementing aggressive greenhouse gas reduction initiatives.

Maryland LCV holds elected officials, including the Governor, accountable to ensure they reflect the strong conservation values of Maryland citizens.

# # #

Maryland League of Conservation Voters (Maryland LCV) is a state-wide nonpartisan organization that uses political action and education to protect our air, land, public health, and water. Maryland LCV endorses and elects pro-conservation candidates and holds elected officials accountable through legislative scorecards. A leading legislative watchdog in Annapolis, we have advocated for smart environmental policies for 40 years, working to make Maryland a healthy and prosperous place for families and communities. Maryland LCV protects public health by fighting for restoration of the Chesapeake Bay and local waters, preserving green spaces, promoting smarter growth and increasing Maryland’s investment in clean energy.

By |2020-01-13T23:35:39-05:00January 9th, 2020|Categories: Blog, Press|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

It’s the Best Day of the Year- the beginning of Session!

Kristen Harbeson, Political Director

By Kristen Harbeson, Political Director

I always get a charge out of the first day of Session.  There is a “back to school” feel to the campus, as everyone returns to the halls of Annapolis with big dreams and freshly minted New Year Resolutions.  Many legislators are returning with new committee assignments or leadership appointments, so they will be finding their way to new offices and learning the ropes of new policy briefs. Six new members (five in the House of Delegates and one in the Senate) – will be moving into their offices for the first time, and both the House and Senate will have new faces behind the rostrum, gaveling their chambers to order. And, of course, there are changes in the environmental community, with new leadership in many partner organizations – including our own!

The energy around a new session is electric – but it is only a matter of hours after the rush of greetings before everyone buckles down for work. I look at my newly polished shoes and know that at the end of 90-days, they will have traversed miles and climbed mountains (all within the same ¼ mile and three buildings), in the interest of pursuing strong environmental policy. The notebook where I keep a record of meetings and conversations, currently crisp and empty, will be full. I will be a stranger to the desk in my office, in favor of the floors outside of the committee rooms.

Over the next 90-days, I’ll be updating you weekly on the stories from the halls of Annapolis, and giving you a look behind the scenes at my life as a lobbyist for “The Political Voice of the Environment,” and help to pull back the curtain of how bills become laws here in Maryland.  I hope you’ll take this as an opportunity to ask questions as we go along, and as we work together to pass ground-breaking environmental legislation. Don’t forget to sign up to receive our weekly “hotlist” of legislation we’re tracking (or you can find it here: https://www.mdlcv.org/weekly-hotlist).  I can’t wait to hear from you!

Thinking of Running for Office? LCV can help!

We’re partnering with LCV national and re:power to train people to run in down-ballot races across the United States. Are you up for the challenge? 

2020 could be the year you run for office — and we want to help. 

For the first time in its history, LCV is holding a non-partisan Candidate Academy to teach the ins and outs of running for office. 

This exclusive program, in partnership with re:power, will give diverse environmental leaders who are passionate about their communities the tools they need to run — and win. 

We all succeed when individuals who are passionate about the environment and addressing climate change take the leap and run for office.  If that sounds like you, then we want you to apply today! 

Apply to be a part of LCV’s first-ever Candidate Academy >>

The deadline to apply is January 10, 2020. The training will take place in February and March in Seattle. Space is extremely limited, so apply today! If you are selected, we will be in touch with you soon on next steps. 

For questions, contact Shanthi Gonzales at LCV (sgonzales@lcv.org)

By |2020-01-07T17:37:01-05:00January 7th, 2020|Categories: Blog|Tags: , |Comments Off on Thinking of Running for Office? LCV can help!

Statement from Kim Coble, Executive Director, Maryland LCV

January 3, 2020

Immediate Release

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

Statement from Kim Coble, Executive Director, Maryland League of Conservation Voters in response to:

Environmental Protection Agency’s comment at today’s Chesapeake Bay Commission meeting that the Chesapeake Bay TMDL (the Bay clean up plan) is an “aspirational document” not a regulatory document. 

“This is a profoundly sad and disappointing moment in Bay history. After decades of leadership on Bay clean up efforts, we are watching the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) turn its back and walk away from the Chesapeake Bay. EPA is abdicating its role and responsibility by treating the Bay clean up plan as an ‘aspirational document’ and not as the effective model it has been recognized as and proved to be. Maryland LCV is calling on Governor Hogan, as the Chair of the Chesapeake Bay Executive Council, to coordinate an immediate and robust response to EPA’s abdication of its responsibility.”

Under the current clean up plan, Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania must develop and fully implement their pollution reduction plans by 2025. This would ensure the ultimate removal of the Chesapeake Bay from the list of dirty waters (the 303d list) https://www.epa.gov/tmdl/overview-listing-impaired-waters-under-cwa-section-303d. The state clean up plans, collectively known as the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load, have been touted as the most effective and successful environmental clean up effort in the country.

# # #

Maryland League of Conservation Voters (Maryland LCV) is a state-wide nonpartisan organization that uses political action and education to protect our air, land, public health, and water. Maryland LCV endorses and elects pro-conservation candidates and holds elected officials accountable through legislative scorecards. A leading legislative watchdog in Annapolis, we have advocated for smart environmental policies for 40 years, working to make Maryland a healthy and prosperous place for families and communities. Maryland LCV protects public health by fighting for restoration of the Chesapeake Bay and local waters, preserving green spaces, promoting smarter growth and increasing Maryland’s investment in clean energy.

 

www.mdlcv.org

By |2020-01-14T00:11:28-05:00January 3rd, 2020|Categories: Blog, Press|0 Comments

The 2019 Environmental Scorecard is here!

By Kristen Harbeson, Political Director

Check out your legislators’ scores and our interactive map!

And it’s all thanks to you. Maryland became the first state to pass a statewide ban on Styrofoam food service products, and Maryland is facing the climate crisis head-on with the passage of the Clean Energy Jobs Act.

Environmental champions also took up the work of Chispa Maryland, the organization’s Latinx outreach program, to pass legislation that creates a permanent grant structure to fund the transition of Maryland’s school bus fleet from diesel to electric-powered.

These bills are supported by you, and strong community-led coalitions with broad legislative support that our elected officials recognized. See how your legislators scored here>>

It’s time for us all to work together as the urgency of the climate crisis becomes more apparent with every passing day. All of these bills passed because of the work that Marylanders did in electing Delegates and Senators who prioritize a clean environment.

Once our elected officials return to Annapolis in January, we at Maryland LCV will be there to hold them accountable for their actions, or inactions.

The full Scorecard is available online and includes records of votes cast on the floor of the House and Senate and in committees, along with past voting records.

Go to http://mdlcv.org/scorecards to see the 2019 Scorecard, our interactive map, and follow #MDLCVScore on social media.

Thank you for being a part of the Conservation Voter Movement!

By |2019-12-12T13:46:25-05:00October 3rd, 2019|Categories: Blog|0 Comments

Great news! Our 2019 John V. Kabler Awardee is Announced!

Maryland League of Conservation Voters is pleased to announce that Robert P. Gallagher is this year’s John V. Kabler Memorial Award winner. 

Bob is an outstanding advocate on environmental issues in Maryland and Anne Arundel County, and co-founder of the Anne Arundel Chapter of Maryland LCV.

Bob developed his life-long passion for clean water at an early age while exploring in boats. He has sailed all over the Chesapeake as well as across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. When he retired from a legal career 15 years ago, he founded West/Rhode Riverkeeper and went on to leadership roles in a long list of other local and statewide environmental groups including Waterkeepers Chesapeake, Scenic Rivers Land Trust, Annapolis Green, Maryland Clean Agriculture Coalition, Delmarva Land and Litter Challenge, and served from 2009 until 2018 on the board of Maryland League of Conservation Voters.  

In 2009, with the late Kincey Potter, Bob co-founded the Anne Arundel Chapter of Maryland LCV to bring the same accountability to elected county officials that Maryland LCV has brought to Maryland state elected officials. By every measure that effort proved successful.

“Bob’s devotion to the health of the Chesapeake Bay, its watershed and its residents began in his youth in the waters off St. Mary’s County and continues today on both the Western and Eastern Shores of our beloved estuary,” remarked Charles Porcari, Interim Director of Maryland League of Conservation Voters (LCV).  

“His countless hours of service to a remarkable array of environmental organizations offer irrefutable testimony to this lawyers’ volunteer efforts.”

Following the 2018 elections, LCV endorsed candidates who now occupy the office of the County Executive and five of the seven seats on the County Council. The group’s work also sparked Maryland LCV’s work in other strategically selected local elections. In the spirit of John Kabler, Bob has demonstrated that you don’t need to be a lobbyist, CEO, or politician to affect environmental policy. Bob and his wife Cate reside in Annapolis.

The Kabler Award will be officially presented to Mr. Gallagher during the annual Maryland LCV Environmental Leadership Awards Dinner on Thursday, October 24 at the Westin Annapolis, beginning at 6:00 in the evening.

We hope you will join us for this celebration of our environmental achievements and a robust discussion of the work ahead. Other 2019 awardees include Climate Champion Senator Brian Feldman and Legislators of the year, Senator Cheryl Kagan and Delegate Brooke Lierman.

By |2019-12-07T09:51:07-05:00September 25th, 2019|Categories: Blog|0 Comments

Introducing our New Executive Director, Kim Coble

By Ed Hatcher, Maryland LCV Board Chair

I am 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. 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.

Please join us on October 24th to celebrate Maryland LCV’s 40th Anniversary and to welcome Kim aboard.

By |2019-12-07T10:52:43-05:00September 19th, 2019|Categories: Blog|0 Comments

Maryland’s Bay Clean Up Plan Lags Behind

By Ben Alexandro, Water Program Director and Katlyn Schmitt of WaterKeepers Chesapeake

Published on Maryland Matters on September 10, 2019

The Chesapeake Bay states recently released their final Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs), which are federally required to demonstrate how each state will meet its clean water commitments for restoring the Bay by 2025.

The multi-state clean-up effort, officially known as the Chesapeake Bay TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load), was a response to the Bay’s steady decline in health almost a decade ago — with widespread dead zones and a steep decline in fish and shellfish populations. The Bay’s poor health at the time was a result of about three decades’ worth of voluntary agreements that were not adequately enforced or implemented by Bay states.

Now, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan  is calling on Pennsylvania to step up its cleanup efforts. And while we commend Governor Hogan for holding other states accountable, Maryland’s own plan is far from perfect.

In fact, Maryland lags far behind Virginia and the District of Columbia in progress toward reducing nitrogen pollution. Maryland’s plan claims it will exceed its 2025 target but it gives few details on what the state will change in order to get there, especially given the all-time low level of staffing at state agencies.

In the past decade, we’ve seen encouraging signs that the Bay is recovering, including an increase in blue crabs and aquatic grasses. But the states must ramp up this work through 2025 and beyond so we don’t lose the progress we’ve made under the Chesapeake Bay TMDL so far.

For a reminder of how fragile the recovery is, look at the massive dead zones plaguing the Bay this year,  the result both of flagging progress by key states and the more frequent, intense rainfalls climate scientists have been warning would afflict our region.

While Maryland has more ambitious goals than Pennsylvania overall, it offers few details on how it expects to increase the rate of the state’s cleanup by six times the current efforts. Maryland’s plan primarily outlines programs and plans already in place and offers little new in programs or funding.

In fact, the plan claims the state has enough funding already — despite the fact that, for the past two years, Maryland counties and dozens of nonprofit organizations have been telling the Maryland Department of the Environment they need more funding, capacity, and technical assistance to be successful. The plan also admits population growth, forest loss, and climate change are challenges that it does not have additional capacity to address.

By 2025, climate change impacts in Maryland are expected to dump more than 2.2 million pounds of nitrogen and 114,000 pounds of phosphorus in the Bay. Maryland committed to drafting another plan in 2022 to address this additional pollution, but that only gives Maryland three years to reduce the expected pollution. Virginia specifically adjusted its pollution reduction targets to account for additional pollution from climate change; Maryland should have done the same.

Maryland’s plan also lags behind Virginia when it comes to incentivizing permanent practices on agricultural land, such as stream reforestation, wetland restoration, and grazing conservation. Forest buffers are one of the most effective ways to prevent nitrogen pollution from entering local waterways, but Maryland only expects to have about one-fifth of the forest buffers for which Virginia has planned.

Maryland has ambitious targets for agriculture pollution reduction, but it focuses too much on funding temporary, annual practices, like cover crops. Only permanent practices would ensure that agricultural pollution remain low after 2025.

To achieve the 2025 goals, the Chesapeake Bay not only needs results from each state, there must also be a clear plan with the necessary resources, regulations, and assistance. But while Maryland included statewide pollution reduction targets for each sector, it did not include any local numeric county-level planning targets that would create clear lines of accountability and transparency. Pollution projections for counties are useful but do not provide clear targets with clear plans to produce clear results.

We’re glad Maryland has committed to its 2025 goals, but it needs to show how it will provide the necessary funding and capacity currently lacking. It’s time Maryland got serious about its clean-up plans and stop pushing the hard work down the road. With increasing extreme weather events and rising sea levels, we don’t have time to waste.

By |2019-12-07T09:37:49-05:00September 10th, 2019|Categories: Blog|0 Comments