Statement by Executive Director Kim Coble on the Passing of Maryland Senate President Emeritus Mike Miller

Statement by Executive Director Kim Coble on the Passing of Maryland Senate President Emeritus Mike Miller

January 15, 2021

Our thoughts and prayers are with Maryland Senate President Emeritus Mike Miller’s family as we hear of his passing today. For the past 33 years, he led the Maryland State Senate with sharp political acumen and strong commitment to serving not only his District 27 constituents but all Marylanders. His lasting influence will be seen in the people he has mentored over the decades, many of whom have risen to be leaders in their own right. Maryland LCV is thankful for his leadership, his dedication and lifetime of public service.

Baltimore Sun article on his life.

By |2021-01-15T20:35:50-05:00January 15th, 2021|Categories: Blog, Press|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Statement by Maryland LCV Executive Director Kim Coble on the US Capitol Siege and other Election-related Threats

Statement by Maryland LCV Executive Director Kim Coble on the US Capitol Siege and other Election-related Threats

As we embark on a new legislative session and opportunity for Marylanders to promote and pass equitable laws and policies for clean water, healthy air, and a resilient climate, Maryland LCV remains committed to building long-term, nonpartisan, mutually beneficial relationships that are based on respect and trust. 

Fair, free, and equitable elections are integral to our work and are the bedrock of our democracy. Respecting the will of the majority, reflected in the outcome of the popular and electoral college votes, and ensuring a smooth transition from one administration to the next, is the responsibility of all Americans. 

We condemn the violent January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and any attempts to suppress democracy, steal elections, subvert the will of the majority, or interfere with  the voting rights of Black and Brown communities.

We ask our fellow Marylanders to uplift the voices of our communities on issues that are important to them. And we call on all Maryland elected officials to denounce attacks on American democracy and to join us in our commitment to strengthening voting rights, access, and protection for all.

By |2021-01-14T12:52:10-05:00January 14th, 2021|Categories: Blog, Equity, Press|Tags: , |0 Comments

MARYLAND LEAGUE OF CONSERVATION VOTERS UNVEILS LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES FOR THE 2021 MARYLAND GENERAL ASSEMBLY SESSION

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 13, 2021

MARYLAND LEAGUE OF CONSERVATION VOTERS UNVEILS LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES FOR THE 2021 MARYLAND GENERAL ASSEMBLY SESSION
 Top Environmental Group to Focus on Bills Addressing the Climate Crisis and advancing Environmental Justice

 
Annapolis, MD – On the first day of the 2021 Maryland General Assembly Legislative session, Maryland League of Conservation Voters (Maryland LCV) announced their legislative priorities, with a specific focus on comprehensively addressing the climate crisis and the disproportionate impacts of pollution on Maryland’s underrepresented communities.

“Climate change is an urgent threat facing our country and our state,” said Maryland LCV board chair, Lynn Heller.  Heller, whose term as board chair began just last month, said that the organization is approaching the 2021 session with a renewed vitality and focus thanks to a recently completed strategic plan. “Our new plan is centered around climate change and environmental justice, and it will guide the organization’s work in 2021 and beyond,” Heller said, adding that “Maryland LCV will work to mobilize Marylanders to promote and pass equitable laws and policies for clean water, healthy air and a resilient climate.”

Maryland LCV’s top two legislative priorities will be the Climate Solutions Now bill and the Transit Safety Investment Act.

Climate Solutions Now would move Maryland’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction goal to net zero by 2045. The bill will provide several low-cost mitigation policies to reduce pollution, including bus electrification and tree plantings in underserved urban areas, calling on the Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities to determine the percentage of state funds spent on climate change that must go to environmental justice communities, and the creation of a work group to protect impacted workers.

“Climate Solutions Now will rebuild Maryland’s economy while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing Maryland’s overburdened communities,” said Maryland LCV executive director, Kim Coble. “Maryland legislators have a responsibility to meaningfully address the climate crisis and a diverse coalition is emerging to hold them to that obligation.”

The Transit Safety and Investment Act, mandates an increase of $123 million annually from the Transportation Trust Fund for the next ten years for the transit system “state of good repair” needs identified by the MTA.

“Investments in transit reduce greenhouse gas emissions and produce roughly twice the number of jobs per dollar as the same investment in roads,” said Coble.  “We have seen during this pandemic that many of our essential workers, especially in health care, rely on public transit to get to their life-saving jobs, but our public transit system is unreliable. They deserve better.”

The organization will also work to strengthen the existing Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities through the Environmental Justice Commission Bill. The bill will include revisions to commission membership, goals, authority, and reporting requirements.

Coble added that Maryland LCV will pursue its entire agenda with diverse coalitions across the state, made up of other environmental advocates; social justice, community, and faith leaders; and business and labor groups.

# # #
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 |2021-01-13T08:08:32-05:00January 13th, 2021|Categories: Blog, Press|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

50-Year Old Morgantown Coal Plant Announces Retirement 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 21st, 2020

Media Contacts:

Contact: Pablo Willis, pablo.willis@sierraclub.org 

50-Year Old Morgantown Coal Plant Announces Retirement 

ANNAPOLIS, MD – Late Friday night, GenOn Holdings, Inc. announced the retirement of the company’s Morgantown coal-fired power plant located in Charles County, MD on the Potomac River. The company will deactivate the coal plant in 2027. Prior to Friday’s announcement, the 50-year old Morgantown plant was the largest coal-fired power plant in Maryland without plans to cease operating. Further, GenOn announced their support for state legislation in 2021 that will codify a state-wide movement beyond coal at Maryland power plants and establish new support programs for impacted workers and communities.   

For half a century working families in Charles County were made to bear the economic, environmental, and public health costs of living next to a toxic polluting coal plant. The plant continues to be a significant source of toxic water pollution discharging toxic heavy metals that can cause cancer, impair brain development in children, and harm the nervous system. Additionally, the plant is a major contributor to smog-forming pollution which exacerbates respiratory ailments and disproportionately impacts children, the elderly, and communities of color. In the past, the plant’s pollution was so severe the NAACP gave Morgantown a D+ for Environmental Justice.

Coal is rapidly declining in today’s energy market because archaic dirty fuels have been unable to compete with more affordable and cleaner renewable energy resources. The industry’s decline has been further expedited by the pressing need to address the global threat of the climate crisis and public health. Over half of the country’s coal plants have retired or announced their retirement plans over the last decade. Maryland entered 2020 with six active coal-fired plants and now five of the six plants have either retired or have announced plans to retire.

It’s imperative that leaders in Annapolis pass the “Coal Community Transition Act of 2021” to establish a coal transition plan with a timeline for retirements and that provides meaningful resources to impacted workers and communities as they face the industry’s precipitous decline. The workers at the GenOn Morgantown facility are represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), local 1900. 

Statements from Senator West and Delegate Brooks are available here.

Chispa Maryland Director Ramon Palencia-Calvo released the following statement: 

“The Morgantown plant closing is good news, but too many communities in Maryland are still suffering unnecessarily from pollution during these uncertain economic times. The state must accelerate an equitable, enforceable transition plan that moves Maryland off coal and towards a clean energy economy that prioritizes our workers and communities.”

The Senior Campaign Representative of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign David Smedick released the following statement in response

“Friday’s announcement is a big step for environmental and community activists who for decades fought against the toxic air and water pollution the Morgantown plant generated. The coal industry’s inevitable decline is here and Maryland must urgently transition to affordable clean energy resources like solar and wind in order to stave off some of the devastating effects of climate change. In the coming years, we will keep working to hold GenOn accountable for its pollution from the Morgantown facility while pushing for more local investment in clean energy solutions. GenOn’s support for coal transition legislation in 2021 creates important momentum leading into an unprecedented Maryland legislative session. Maryland’s General Assembly leaders and Governor Hogan must take swift action by passing the “Coal Community Transition Act of 2021” to establish a timely transition plan off coal and to clean energy that supports our communities and promotes good union jobs for impacted workers.” 

Jonathan Lacock-Nisly, Director of Faithful Advocacy for Interfaith Power & Light (DC.MD.NoVA), released the following statement:

“People of faith know that caring for our communities means transitioning away from coal as a power source. We see the closing of the Morgantown plant and all of Maryland’s coal plants as essential for the health of our state, our climate, our neighbors, and ourselves. 

“We call on our elected officials to provide funding for a just transition—a transition that ensures both clean air and good union jobs for all of our communities. Faithful Marylanders know that a clean energy economy is our future, and our communities are depending on our elected officials to chart the path forward.”

Charles County Board of Commissioners’ President Reuben B. Collins II, released the following statement:

“Being ahead of the curve as the county prepares for the eventual closing of the Morgantown Plant will provide measurable dividends for our citizens.  We want to be at the table when a “just transition” plan is adopted to ensure that the lost revenue (commercial tax dollars in excess of $8.5 million) will be replaced with a plan to retrain the present workforce, and focus on renewable energy alternatives.  Passage of this legislation in Annapolis will be a win-win for our citizens, closing out the hazardous emissions from a coal plant to a transition to energy that is renewable. This will potentially reap economic development benefits for the future.”

Phillip Musegaas, Vice President Programs and Litigation,  Potomac Riverkeeper Network,  released the following statement:

“Potomac Riverkeeper supports GenOn’s decision to close Morgantown’s coal fired units, with the expectation that the company will conduct a full cleanup of coal pollution at the site as part of its plan,” said Dean Naujoks, Potomac Riverkeeper. “Morgantown has a troubled history of polluting Pasquehanza Creek and the Potomac River with coal waste that must be addressed, and we will continue to hold GenOn accountable for any pollution problems at the site.”   

Maryland Sierra Club Executive Committee Member, Teresa Ball, released the following statement in response

“GenOn’s announcement to discontinue coal operations at Morgantown is a critical step in easing the massive pollution burden in Charles County and in moving Maryland beyond coal. However, this announcement is only the start of a conversation regarding a transition plan for our County, community, and workers.”

By |2020-12-21T10:47:11-05:00December 21st, 2020|Categories: Blog, Climate Change, Press|Tags: , , |0 Comments

ALL HANDS ON DECK FOR FREDERICK COUNTY’S FORESTS

ALL HANDS ON DECK FOR FREDERICK COUNTY’S FORESTS

By Ben Alexandro, Water Policy Director
Originally posted on Choose Clean Water Coalition’s blog

Exactly one year ago this month I pulled up to a tree planting event on a little farm in Thurmont, Maryland. On that crisp autumn morning, 50 volunteers from all walks of life carefully planted hundreds of yellow trees along a winding stream bank. In the years to come, these forests will grow to filter pollution running off the land, help alleviate flooding, and clean the air.

As I spoke with John Smucker of Stream-Link Education while he inspected each sapling in our new forest, I couldn’t help but marvel at the righteousness and purity of planting a tree. But then on the drive home, we passed construction site after construction site. I saw acres upon acres of forest—thousands of trees—replaced by bulldozers and bare ground scarring the landscape. It broke my heart to see the amazing work of those 50 volunteers overshadowed by the destruction of sprawling development projects.

Despite its many tree planting projects, Frederick County was losing forests. Between 2012 and 2019, according to the County government, Frederick County experienced a net loss of about 480 acres of forest, or an average of nearly 70 acres annually. This is because forward-thinking “no net loss of forest” policies were repealed in 2011 by the County Council. After years of perpetual loss, it was time to make a big change.

Advocacy and Leadership to the Rescue!

Addressing the magnitude of Frederick County’s forest loss problem required an all-hands-on-deck effort. Local community groups and many non-profit organizations teamed up with volunteers and advocates to drive change. It’s no surprise that several Choose Clean Water Coalition member organizations were involved, including Maryland League of Conservation Voters, Clean Water Action, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Potomac Conservancy, Sierra Club, Preservation Maryland, Clean Water Linganore, Catoctin Land Trust, Envision Frederick County, and Multifaith Alliance of Climate Stewards of Frederick County. Other coalitions, such as the Smarter Growth Alliance of Frederick County, were instrumental as well.

While the pandemic caused delays, Coalition members ensured the forest bills were front and center for County Council members all year. We generated hundreds of emails, testimony from dozens of advocates, and several sign on letters. Multiple op-eds and newspaper articles urged the county council to remain focused on this incredibly important policy.

And ultimately, the County Council listened.

Success!

Frederick County now has the strongest county forest protections in all of Maryland and is a model to the entire Chesapeake Watershed. Two forward-looking bills made the difference:

  • Forest Resource Ordinance (Bill 20-08): This legislation will stop net forest loss, as at a minimum, every acre of forests cut down will now be replanted. It puts back the protections lost in 2011 when Frederick County was once a leader.

  • Zoning Amendment (Bill 20-07): This legislation requires developers to identify environmental resources in need of protection for all future development projects. At its core, this legislation recognizes that not all development sites are created equal. Some sites have sensitive features like steep slopes, where tree roots are preventing landslides, and floodplains where the forests are slowing and cleaning floodwaters. Some developers fight tooth and nail to maximize construction on these sites just because they are within certain unit density zones. Preserving forests in these areas is critical, and Bill 20-07 excludes sensitive areas from development, saving the county’s most important forests.

Together, these bills will save thousands of acres of the county’s best forests and are huge wins for clean water. This success is thanks to the leadership of the new County Council—and especially the hard work of County Executive Jan Gardner and sponsors Kai Hagen and M.C. Keegan-Ayer—and the ceaseless advocacy of several Choose Clean Water Coalition partner organizations.

In the final analysis, even attempts to weaken the bill or grandfather in potentially damaging construction projects were struck down. And the two bills passed unanimously.

Building Strength Together

In the last year, Anne Arundel County, Howard County and Baltimore City have all upgraded their local forest protections. However, Frederick County has the strongest forest protection laws in the state. In an incredibly encouraging development, other Maryland counties are now looking at Frederick County’s legislation for inspiration. Montgomery County and Charles County both have hearings this fall to amend their forest conservation laws, and Baltimore City and Anne Arundel County are looking to Frederick to see if they can upgrade their policies even further based on Frederick’s model.

Frederick County will now gain forests instead of losing them.

Thanks to the work of so many volunteers and organizations, everyone who helps plant a tree in Frederick County can be confident they are growing a new and greener Frederick. And as Frederick County’s forests expand, we will enjoy the solace they provide and cleaner water and air for all.

Ben Alexandro is the Water Program Director at Maryland League of Conservation Voters and the Choose Clean Water Coalition’s Maryland State Lead

By |2020-12-15T13:17:56-05:00December 15th, 2020|Categories: Blog, Clean Water and the Bay|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

What the elections mean for Maryland’s environment

What the elections mean for Maryland’s environment

A Note from Executive Director, Kim Coble

It’s been an incredibly stressful couple of weeks in an even more difficult year, and I’m sure that you, like me, are suffering from a bit of whiplash from constant barrage of election news.  

Free and fair elections are the bedrock of our democracy. In any election, every vote must be counted, without interference or intimidation. Because voter suppression persists, we especially need to ensure all voices are recognized, particularly those from poor and marginalized communities. We are encouraged that, in Maryland, the election went smoothly and with record turnout.

The wheels that power our democracy never stopped turning. Workers in polling places across the country kept counting ballots, one by one, until the job was done. In the end, American voters were heard and elected Joe Biden as our next President. We look forward to working with the new administration to advance equitable policies, to fight climate change, and to put Maryland and the country on a path to a more sustainable environmental future. 

These past few months, Maryland LCV has reached over 250,000 Marylanders through a comprehensive civic engagement campaign to ensure that voters – and particularly those from underrepresented communities — knew how to use their vote to advocate for smart and equitable environmental policies. 

As you know, much of our work happens at the state and local level. We are already strategically focused on the upcoming legislative session and will continue to push for more sustainable and equitable environmental solutions. 

The U.S. and Maryland need to take dramatic and immediate action to address the climate crisis and put the country on a more sustainable environmental path. 

We at Maryland LCV will need your support as we focus on several key pieces of legislation with strong environment and equity components: 

  • A Cumulative Impacts bill that will require the government to publish and maintain a list of overburdened communities in the State; applications for permits for new or expanded industrial facilities in those areas will have to undergo a review that examines environmental and public health factors already present in the community and those that will be added by the new permit.
  • A Climate Omnibus package that will increase Maryland’s greenhouse gas reduction requirements to 60% below 2006 levels by 2030 and net neutral by 2045 along with specific programs to reach those ambitious but achievable goals, including reinvigorating an existing work group on equity and inclusion.
  • A Transit Equity Recovery package that will ensure adequate funding for safe and effective public transit and transitioning the state to electric buses. 

The coming weeks and months will no doubt be difficult for all of us, but better days are ahead. It will take hard work, cooperation, and creativity to get there, but together we can put Maryland and the country on a more stable environmental and equity course. 

With climate change bearing down, we have the work of a lifetime ahead of us. It won’t be easy. But our movement here in Maryland is stronger than ever, and we must keep faith that brighter days are ahead.

Stay well and stay healthy,

Head shot of Kim Coble

Kim Coble, Maryland LCV

Executive Director

By |2020-11-19T12:26:59-05:00November 19th, 2020|Categories: Blog, Electoral|Tags: , |0 Comments

MD Environmental Groups Applaud Findings of Climate Commission Report & Call on Elected Leaders for Bold Climate Action

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 17th, 2020

Media Contacts:
Pablo Willis, pablo.willis@sierraclub.org
Dannielle Lipinski, dlipinski@mdlcv.org 

MD Environmental Groups Applaud Findings of Climate Commission Report & Call on Elected Leaders for Bold Climate Action 

ANNAPOLIS, MD – The Sierra Club and Maryland League of Conservation Voters today applauded the Maryland Commission on Climate Change’s new 2020 Annual Report to the Maryland General Assembly and Governor Hogan. 

The Maryland Commission on Climate Change is a bipartisan commission made up of labor unions, government agencies, business representatives, utilities, scientists, and environmental advocates who develop policies and strategies to address the urgent threat of climate change. This year’s bipartisan report outlines several critical actions the state can take to help mitigate the disastrous impacts of the climate crisis. 

The Sierra Club and Maryland LCV lauded several immediate policy Recommendations outlined in the 2020 Annual Report, including:  

  • Transition off all of Maryland’s dirty coal-fired plants by no later than 2030 and establish a community transition plan to support impacted workers and communities. 
  • Update and increase Maryland’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act goals to reduce statewide GHG emissions by 50 percent from 2006 levels by 2030 with a planning goal of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045.
  • Prioritize and invest in equitable electrification of Maryland’s commercial and residential buildings to ensure Marylanders can reap the economic and health benefits of climate-friendly homes through investing in retrofits. 
  • Center environmental and climate justice principles in all planning and coordination with intergovernmental and community partners. 
  • Preserve state and regional efforts to decarbonize transportation through incentives to construct battery charging stations and increase the use of Zero-Emission Vehicles. 

Maryland Senior Campaign Representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, David Smedick, released the following statement:

We applaud the work done by the Maryland Commission on Climate Change in outlining common-sense climate action policies that center the need for equity. In particular, it’s exciting to see the Commission recognize the unsustainable and uneconomic nature of the coal industry and call on the General Assembly to move the state entirely off coal-fired power plants in the coming years while supporting impacted workers and communities in that transition. The report’s groundbreaking recommendations to begin transitioning off fossil fuels in our homes and businesses by heating our buildings with systems that use clean electricity is a necessary change that’ll produce safer, healthier and more climate-friendly buildings. There is more work to do but this year’s report is an important step forward and we hope the General Assembly and Governor Hogan implement the climate actions recommended by the Commission.”

Executive Director for the Maryland League of Conservation Voters and co-chair of the Commission, Kim Coble, released the following statement:

“The Commission’s recommendations have the potential to better position Maryland to be a national leader in responding to climate change while also considering its disadvantaged and overburdened communities. We look forward to working with the Governor and General Assembly to move these recommendations forward.” Coble cited the Transportation and Climate Initiative as a crucial opportunity for the state to use a regional approach to address emission reductions from the transportation sector.

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By |2020-11-17T14:13:55-05:00November 17th, 2020|Categories: Blog, Press|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Statement from Kim Coble, executive director of Maryland LCV, on the General Election

November 4, 2020 Contact: Dannielle Lipinski, dlipinski@mdlcv.org

Statement from Kim Coble, executive director of Maryland LCV, on the General Election

 Free and fair elections are the bedrock of our democracy, and we all need to be patient and have faith in the electoral process. Every vote must be counted, without interference or intimidation. Because voter suppression persists, we especially need to ensure all voices are recognized, particularly those from poor and marginalized communities.

This election season, Maryland LCV reached more than 250,000 Marylanders through a comprehensive civic engagement campaign to ensure that voters – and particularly those from underrepresented communities — knew how to use their vote to advocate for smart and equitable environmental policies. Our staff also has been engaged in election protection and extensive Get Out the Vote activities.

Much of Maryland LCV’s work happens at the state and local level. We are already strategically focused on the upcoming legislative session and will continue to push for more sustainable and equitable environmental solutions regardless of the outcome of the election.

# # #

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.

www.mdlcv.org

By |2020-11-04T08:32:17-05:00November 4th, 2020|Categories: Blog, Electoral, Press|Tags: |0 Comments