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.

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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.

www.mdlcv.org

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

Statewide Voting Rights Coalition Urges Patience as Ballots are Counted

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 4, 2020

Contact: Meredith Curtis Goode, ACLU-MD, media@aclu-md.org
Dannielle Lipinski, Maryland LCV Ed Fund, dlipinski@mdlcv.org
Liz Iacobucci, Common Cause, liacobucci@commoncause.org 

Statewide Voting Rights Coalition Urges Patience as Ballots are Counted

Maryland — The state-wide coalition Everyone Votes Maryland has been working tirelessly throughout the 2020 congressional 7th District Special Election, Primary, and now General Election to ensure that every Marylander knows their rights when it comes to voting and ensuring a fair and safe election process.

“We have already seen impressive turnout in Maryland, and voters young and old have demonstrated great resiliency in their ability to navigate new voting processes amidst the pandemic,” said Maryland PIRG Foundation director Emily Scarr. “As we wait for results we should rest assured that our elections staff in Maryland and nationwide are doing the painstaking work of ensuring every vote is counted in a secure manner. This is democracy at work.”

“This election season, Maryland League of Conservation Voters Education Fund deployed a comprehensive civic engagement campaign aimed at ensuring Maryland voters – and particularly those from underrepresented communities — knew how to use their vote to advocate for smart and equitable environmental policies,” said Kim Coble, Executive Director of Maryland LCV Education Fund. 

“We need to be patient and let election officials count all the votes. Maryland’s primary in June was conducted mostly by mail. It took several days after primary day to count all the votes that had been mailed on time for Mayor of Baltimore,” said Maryland Sierra Club political chair Rich Norling. “Some other states have laws that don’t allow them to start processing and counting their thousands of mailed ballots until election day itself. So be prepared for patience as election officials get an accurate count of all the mailed-in ballots.”

“Thanks are owed to the many Maryland volunteers, poll workers, and public election officials for ensuring fair and safe elections during this pandemic,” said Larry Ottinger, Board Chair of Our Maryland Education Fund.  “And to the record number of Marylanders who have voted during this pandemic – whether by mail or in person – to make their voices heard in our democracy.”

“The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) strongly supports every effort to make sure that all the ballots cast in this election are counted. We’d like to thank everyone who worked tirelessly to protect our democracy by ensuring a fair and transparent process that enables every eligible voter’s voice to be heard,” said Zainab Chaudry, Director, CAIR Office in Maryland.

“While COVID-19 has made voting unsafe for many voters with disabilities, mail-in ballots and remote accessible ballots have allowed many voters to cast their ballot safely and independently. But it may take longer for this year for your vote to be officially counted,” said Ben Jackson, Staff Attorney of Disability Rights Maryland.

“We are glad to see our Maryland leaders: Governor Larry Hogan, Senate President Bill Ferguson, and Speaker of the House of Delegates Adrienne Jones have committed to counting every last ballot before declaring winners of the 2020 General Election and hope other states will follow their good, democratic example,” said Cristi Demnowicz, chair of Represent Maryland.

“Baltimore Women United is proud of the efforts of Baltimoreans and Marylanders to turn out the vote this election season, to protect our elections and ensure they are safe and fair, and to make our voices heard as voters. We expect that every vote will be counted – this is our right and our demand. Voting is how the people speak; the time and effort to count all votes is how we are heard. The women of Baltimore will be heard,” said Jessica Klaitman, Baltimore Women United Steering Committee.

Every ballot must be counted. We are proud of the enthusiasm and determination of Marylanders to vote and the massive effort by our coalition partners to ensure robust access to the ballot for all voters. No matter what the outcome of this election, we will continue to expand and protect democracy. Together, we must realize race equity, reimagine policing, end mass incarceration, protect immigrants’ rights, safeguard privacy, advance LGBTQ+ rights, and stop any rollback of our hard won civil rights and civil liberties,” said Dana Vickers Shelley, Executive Director, ACLU of Maryland. 

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Everyone Votes Maryland is a nonpartisan coalition of national, state, and grassroots organizations dedicated to ensuring that all eligible Marylanders can have their voices heard on Election Day. 

https://everyonevotesmaryland.org/

By |2020-11-04T07:34:27-05:00November 4th, 2020|Categories: Blog, Diversity, Equity, Press|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Md. LCV Chief: As State Faces COVID Challenges, Don’t Leave Transit Needs Behind

Md. LCV Chief: As State Faces COVID Challenges, Don’t Leave Transit Needs Behind

Originally posted on Maryland Matters on October 28, 2020

By Kim Coble, Executive Director of Maryland LCV

Maryland Matters recently speculated that, with vehicular traffic down across the state due to the COVID-19 pandemic, perhaps it’s time to put the brakes on the Hogan administration’s massive highway expansion projects [“COVID-19 Decreased Air Pollution in the State, Study Shows,” Oct. 22]. We agree. It’s time to get out of that gasoline-powered car altogether and jump on the train of public transit and electrification and other zero-emission methods.

In Maryland League of Conservation Voters’ 2020 Environmental Scorecard, we criticized  the General Assembly for failing to pass any major transportation legislation, taking a step backward at exactly the moment when we should have been boldly advancing.

Leadership in both the House and the Senate have begun talking openly about their priorities for the 2021 session in the face of the two national public health emergencies of COVID-19 and racial injustice. We applaud the measures both presiding officers are taking to address these important challenges. We urge them to recognize that public transportation must be central to any proposal, and we are eager to offer solutions that will meet the state’s transportation needs while minimizing the air pollution that particularly plagues our communities of color.

Now, while our state leaders are tackling racial injustice and the systems that keep too many people of color in poverty, is the perfect time to improve our public transit system. The problems are proven:

  • 2015 study out of Harvard identified long commute times for workers in one’s neighborhood as the single strongest factor in the odds of escaping poverty.
  • In Baltimore City, where many students rely on public transportation to get to school, our public transit system has the highest number of breakdowns in the country, according to federal data.
  • Diesel fumes from buses around the state contribute to a disproportionately high number of respiratory illnesses in our children of color who are most likely to rely on school buses. While electric buses have a higher initial cost, the long-term savings of maintenance and gas makes them more cost-effective purchases.

In a nutshell, students can’t benefit from world-class education if they are too sick to go to school or if they can’t reliably get there. Affordable health care does not help those who don’t have a way to get to their doctors without costly emergency services.

A large and diverse coalition of community advocates are rallying to push the General Assembly to pass several bills that will help address the inequities and other impacts of a neglected transit system.

The Transit Safety Investment Act will ensure that the Maryland Transit Administration has sufficient funds to adequately maintain the current fleet of buses, trains, subways and stations – allowing safe and reliable transportation for roughly 6 million riders each month including those our health care workers and the people in our state who do not own their own cars to reach their health care providers.

The Electric Bus Transition Act would ensure that by 2035 all the buses maintained by the state are zero-emission buses, reducing the diesel pollution that most impacts communities of color and low-income populations in our state.

Another bill, School Bus Purchasing – Zero Emission Vehicle – Requirement, long championed by the Maryland League of Conservation Voters, would do the same for school buses to help combat the epidemic levels of asthma in Latinx children around the state.

The Transportation Funding Act creates the state fund to implement the Transportation Climate Initiative, a multi-state compact to reduce transportation pollution throughout the Northeast and mid-Atlantic region.

The General Assembly should also consider a new bill that expands “complete streets” policies that this General Assembly has already supported. The bill would allow projects that improve bike, pedestrian and public transportation infrastructure to be funded by red light and traffic camera revenues, which would make these systems safer and more accessible to all Marylanders.

Each of these proposals helps support our statewide goals of reducing the carbon emissions from our transportation sector and preserving the air pollution reductions that have been a result of COVID-driven stay-at-home orders. Each of these proposals also supports the growth of good, family-supporting union jobs at nearly double the rate of the same amount of money spent on highway expansion. That sounds like a win-win solution for all Marylanders who are struggling to emerge from quarantine.

Marylanders deserve investments in infrastructure that improves our health and the health of our communities. We deserve access to good jobs and good health care. And we deserve the safe, clean and reliable transportation system — including bike and pedestrian infrastructure — that allows us to truly be one Maryland, connected to each other and all that are important to us.

We look forward to working with the Maryland General Assembly to make all of this possible.

By |2020-10-28T13:02:31-04:00October 28th, 2020|Categories: Blog, Climate Change, Press|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Maryland General Assembly Gets Failing Grades for Transportation, Climate in 2020 Environmental Scorecard

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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

Maryland General Assembly Gets Failing Grades for Transportation, Climate in 2020 Environmental Scorecard

Major steps also needed to address threats to vulnerable communities

Annapolis, MD — The Maryland General Assembly failed in 2020 to address transportation and climate change legislation crucial to the state’s long-term health and to the protection of communities of color and low-income communities, according to the Maryland League of Conservation Voters (Maryland LCV). The nonprofit watchdog group gave the General Assembly failing grades for two out of five legislative areas in its 2020 Environmental Scorecard, released today.

“Delegates, Senators, and their staffs showed leadership in helping Maryland respond to COVID-19 and national concerns about racial injustice,” said Maryland LCV Executive Director Kim Coble. “But climate and transportation are the areas where progress is most urgently needed, and all Marylanders should be disappointed that the General Assembly passed no legislation in these crucial sectors. These bills would have made Maryland more resilient to climate change impacts that we are already facing and to future calamities.”

According to Coble, the group graded the General Assembly on a curve because of the tremendous challenges of the pandemic, which led to the Assembly adjourning early for the first time since the Civil War. Maryland LCV gave the Assembly passing grades in the categories dealing with water, agriculture, and resiliency legislation. However, the group called the legislature’s decisions not to advance climate and transportation bills the most consequential failings of the 2020 General Assembly.

“To make real progress in 2021, the General Assembly has to take meaningful steps to address climate change and transportation fixes,” said Coble. “Fortunately, as these bills better position Maryland to address present and future environmental challenges, they will simultaneously address pollution and other environmental burdens that disproportionately affect Maryland’s communities of color and low-income communities.”

Specifically, said Coble, the General Assembly must pass a comprehensive bill to aggressively reduce greenhouse gas emissions, advance energy efficiency, and reduce methane leakages. She added that the General Assembly also needs to pass key transportation bills, including transit funding to address backlogs and ensuring that revenue from the regional Transportation and Climate Initiative is spent on programs that reduce greenhouse gases and co-pollutants.

The state must also consider environmental legislation to advance equity and racial justice. Coble specifically called for the state to pass “cumulative impact” legislation, which would require that all permits issued by the state include an assessment of all potential impacts on all communities, regardless of demographics or socioeconomic status.

“Too many Maryland communities are overburdened by environmental hazards and locally unwanted land uses,” said Dr. Sacoby Wilson, associate professor at the University of Maryland School of Public Health. “They have inequitable access to natural resources or differential risks from climate change because of skin color or economic standing. We must pass legislation that prevents agencies from adding new polluters in communities that are already overburdened and requires that environmental justice screening tools be used in environmental decision-making.”

“We also need to revamp the Maryland Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities and improve air quality in communities with more than their fair share of air pollution sources,” adds Wilson. “And it is imperative that we invest in overburdened and under-resourced communities so they can become more sustainable, climate resilient, and benefit from a just transition from fossil fuels to renewables.”

Maryland LCV’s 2020 Environmental Scorecard summary data:

Legislative Category

Number of bills passed (of those prioritized by MD LCV)

General Assembly Grade

Water

2 of 3

B

Agriculture

1 of 1

A

Resiliency

2 of 5

C

Transportation

0 of 3

F

Climate

0 of 3

F

The full report can be located at https://scorecard.mdlcv.org

Maryland League of Conservation Voters is a state-wide, nonpartisan organization that uses political action and education to protect our  land, air, water and communities. The organization is known for educating lawmakers and holding them accountable for their leadership and votes on key environmental issues. Maryland LCV’s annual scorecard, along with their other reports, help inform voters about their legislators’ records.

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Video of our Tele-Press Conference is here:

By |2020-10-15T16:13:05-04:00October 15th, 2020|Categories: Press|Tags: , |0 Comments

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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

Maryland General Assembly Gets Failing Grades for Transportation, Climate in 2020 Environmental Scorecard

Major steps also needed to address threats to vulnerable communities

Annapolis, MD — The Maryland General Assembly failed in 2020 to address transportation and climate change legislation crucial to the state’s long-term health and to the protection of communities of color and low-income communities, according to the Maryland League of Conservation Voters (Maryland LCV). The nonprofit watchdog group gave the General Assembly failing grades for two out of five legislative areas in its 2020 Environmental Scorecard, released today.

“Delegates, Senators, and their staffs showed leadership in helping Maryland respond to COVID-19 and national concerns about racial injustice,” said Maryland LCV Executive Director Kim Coble. “But climate and transportation are the areas where progress is most urgently needed, and all Marylanders should be disappointed that the General Assembly passed no legislation in these crucial sectors. These bills would have made Maryland more resilient to climate change impacts that we are already facing and to future calamities.”

According to Coble, the group graded the General Assembly on a curve because of the tremendous challenges of the pandemic, which led to the Assembly adjourning early for the first time since the Civil War. Maryland LCV gave the Assembly passing grades in the categories dealing with water, agriculture, and resiliency legislation. However, the group called the legislature’s decisions not to advance climate and transportation bills the most consequential failings of the 2020 General Assembly.

“To make real progress in 2021, the General Assembly has to take meaningful steps to address climate change and transportation fixes,” said Coble. “Fortunately, as these bills better position Maryland to address present and future environmental challenges, they will simultaneously address pollution and other environmental burdens that disproportionately affect Maryland’s communities of color and low-income communities.”

Specifically, said Coble, the General Assembly must pass a comprehensive bill to aggressively reduce greenhouse gas emissions, advance energy efficiency, and reduce methane leakages. She added that the General Assembly also needs to pass key transportation bills, including transit funding to address backlogs and ensuring that revenue from the regional Transportation and Climate Initiative is spent on programs that reduce greenhouse gases and co-pollutants.

The state must also consider environmental legislation to advance equity and racial justice. Coble specifically called for the state to pass “cumulative impact” legislation, which would require that all permits issued by the state include an assessment of all potential impacts on all communities, regardless of demographics or socioeconomic status.

“Too many Maryland communities are overburdened by environmental hazards and locally unwanted land uses,” said Dr. Sacoby Wilson, associate professor at the University of Maryland School of Public Health. “They have inequitable access to natural resources or differential risks from climate change because of skin color or economic standing. We must pass legislation that prevents agencies from adding new polluters in communities that are already overburdened and requires that environmental justice screening tools be used in environmental decision-making.”

“We also need to revamp the Maryland Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities and improve air quality in communities with more than their fair share of air pollution sources,” adds Wilson. “And it is imperative that we invest in overburdened and under-resourced communities so they can become more sustainable, climate resilient, and benefit from a just transition from fossil fuels to renewables.”

Maryland LCV’s 2020 Environmental Scorecard summary data:

Legislative Category

Number of bills passed (of those prioritized by MD LCV)

General Assembly Grade

Water

2 of 3

B

Agriculture

1 of 1

A

Resiliency

2 of 5

C

Transportation

0 of 3

F

Climate

0 of 3

F

 

Maryland League of Conservation Voters is a state-wide, nonpartisan organization that uses political action and education to protect our  land, air, water and communities. The organization is known for educating lawmakers and holding them accountable for their leadership and votes on key environmental issues. Maryland LCV’s annual scorecard, along with their other reports, help inform voters about their legislators’ records.

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By |2020-10-15T10:31:06-04:00October 15th, 2020|Categories: Press|Tags: , |0 Comments

Statement from Kim Coble re: Cancellation of Transit Cuts

Statement from Kim Coble re: Cancellation of Transit Cuts

September 30, 2020
Contact: Kristen Harbeson, kharbeson@mdlcv.org, 410 952 8100

Today, the Hogan Administration announced the decision to cancel proposed significant cuts to service in the Baltimore region.

Kim Coble, Executive Director of Maryland LCV issues the following statement on the cancelation of cuts to transit.

 “Maryland LCV is pleased that the Maryland Transit Administration will be canceling the majority of proposed significant cuts to the state’s public transit system. Had they been implemented, these cuts would have exacerbated the devastation wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic to our economy.  Today’s decision shows the power of the communities who spoke with one voice on the importance of public transit to their lives and livelihoods. 

Maryland should be investing in more public transportation, not less. We should be increasing access to job centers from the communities most in need, not cutting it. We must prioritize cleaner transportation alternatives that reduce pollution and the health conditions that make marginalized communities especially vulnerable to the impacts of coronavirus and other respiratory illnesses like asthma. A strong public transit system is important to our air, our water, our economy, and the health of our communities and citizens.

Although the majority of the cuts have been canceled, we remain concerned by the continued cuts to commuter bus service and to the MARC train schedule. We urge the Administration to engage with transit riders and advocates prior to making decisions that affect their lives, and to be transparent about rationales and data that support these decisions.”

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This statement is in response to the Baltimore Sun article.

 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.

Maryland League of Conservation Voters
30 West Street, Suite C
Annapolis, MD 21401
www.mdlcv.org

By |2020-09-30T16:48:23-04:00September 30th, 2020|Categories: Press|Tags: , |0 Comments

Latinx ‘promotores’ lead the way for environmental action

Reposted with permission from the Bay Journal

Latinx ‘promotores’ lead the way for environmental action

Program has trained more than 100 residents to become advocates for their communities

By Jeremy Cox : September 15, 2020

Candida Garcia had never been involved in environmental causes. But over the past four years, she has founded a community garden, grilled local officials about air quality, campaigned for statewide bans on plastic bags and straws and successfully lobbied her county to purchase electric school buses.

Candida Garcia and students from Rosa Parks Elementary School in Prince George’s County, MD, teamed up to create the school’s community garden.

Garcia chalks up her transformation to a leadership program tailored to a demographic that the White-dominated environmental movement has historically overlooked: the Latinx community.

Including Garcia’s inaugural class of 2016, Chispa Maryland has produced more than 100 graduates from its Promotores program. Over the course of six to eight weekly classes, they are given the basics of environmental justice, advocacy and community organizing — with the hope of creating a generation of grassroots “promoters.”

Garcia and her fellow promotores are finding that their work has never been more difficult or urgent. During one of the most imperative moments in its short history, the program may be the prototype that shows green groups in the Chesapeake Bay region and elsewhere how to diversify their membership, said Ramon Palencia-Calvo, director of Maryland’s Chispa.

“I think there’s an understanding among environmental groups that we need to expand our reach beyond the typical audience — the White middle-class person who has disposable time and income to volunteer for an environmental cause,” he said. “We want to create a movement that represents the entire population of Maryland.”

Nearly 90% of leadership positions in environmental groups nationwide were held by White people as of 2014, according to a widely cited study. Hispanics and Latinos occupied fewer than 3% of those positions.

Due to racist housing policies, their communities, though, tend to bear more environmental burdens, suffering from poorer air quality, greater impacts from climate change and more toxic contamination.

Candida Garcia works at the Rosa Parks Elementary School community garden, which science teachers have used as a living classroom.

“In order to make real change, we needed to build power in those communities that are overburdened by pollution and are underserved,” Palencia-Calvo said.

Chispa, meaning “spark” in Spanish, was created by the Maryland League of Conservation Voters in 2014. It was the fourth state-based LCV organization to have its own Latinx-geared program after New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona. LCV affiliates in Connecticut and Nevada launched programs the following year, bringing the total to six nationwide.

Palencia-Calvo, a former fellow at the Worldwatch Institute, has been overseeing the Maryland program from its earliest days. He never worried about finding a receptive audience. Polls routinely show that Hispanics are concerned about global warming and are apt to believe it is caused by humans. They also show a strong commitment to a host of other environmental issues.

So, he and his team started knocking on doors, beginning in Langley Park in Prince George’s County. About three-quarters of the community’s nearly 20,000 residents are Hispanic. Their housing is often plagued by mold and lead-based paint. The outdoors offers little reprieve because the air is fouled by the area’s heavy traffic.

Four years later, about 30 of Chispa’s promotores reside in the densely populated nook just inside the northeastern corner of the District of Columbia’s Capital Beltway. Garcia was one of the first.

Speaking in Spanish with Palencia-Calvo acting as a translator, she said concerns about the health of her four children triggered her interest in the environment. Could one of her son’s severe asthma attacks be linked to bad air quality or her aging home? How could she find out if her drinking water was safe?

She and other Chispa participants gathered with their families in the evenings at the local community center. Childcare wasn’t a problem because Chispa had educational activities waiting for them. Everyone brought a dish to share.

Chispa staff conducted most of the training, but some sessions featured experts from other environmental groups. After 40 hours of training — the total has since been shortened to 24 hours — Garcia received her graduation certificate. She swelled with pride. “Muy feliz” (very happy) is how she describes the feeling today.

Then, Garcia got to work. With financial support from the Chesapeake Bay Trust, she organized a community garden at Rosa Parks Elementary in Hyattsville. It was designed as a “therapy space,” where families could enjoy a rare opportunity to be together, she said. They grew tomatoes, peppers and other staples, which were distributed among some of the school’s low-income families. For the science teachers, it became a living classroom.

Because of the pandemic, the garden was left fallow this year, but Garcia’s other efforts continue to bear fruit. In 2017, Chispa Maryland launched a “Clean Buses for Healthy Ninos” campaign, seeking to steer some of the state’s $75 million Volkswagen settlement money toward zero-emission, electric school buses. Garcia was on the campaign’s front lines, writing a blog post and talking to elected officials.

Last September, the Maryland Department of the Environment invested $2.5 million of that funding in an electric– and propane-bus pilot program in four counties, including Prince George’s.

The Promotores classes have been put on hold this year because of the pandemic, but Chispa leaders hope to restart the program once it’s safe for groups to gather again.

This year’s seemingly unending battle with COVID-19 has plunged Garcia and Palencia-Calvo into territory that would be unfamiliar for many green-focused groups. Garcia, a board member with the Langley Park Civic Association, partnered with Chispa to apply for a grant from LCV’s COVID-19 fund. The association was awarded $20,000, which will be disbursed to families who have suffered financially because of the pandemic. Chispa and the civic association collected an additional $15,000 through community fundraising efforts.

The community has given much to the green movement over the years. Now, it’s time to give back, Garcia said.

“Environmentalism is about the health of the families and the people that we love,” she said.

By |2020-09-23T09:53:24-04:00September 23rd, 2020|Categories: Blog, Press|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Open Letter regarding Budget Cuts to the Maryland Transportation Administration

September 15, 2020
Contact: Kristen Harbeson, kharbeson@mdlcv.org and cell 410-952-8100

Download the pdf of the letter here.

Re: Budget Cuts to the Maryland Transportation Administration

AN OPEN LETTER TO GOVERNOR LARRY HOGAN, MARYLAND TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY GREG SLATER, AND MARYLAND TRANSIT ADMINISTRATOR KEVIN QUINN:

Last week, the Maryland Department of Transportation and Maryland Transit Administration announced major cuts to the MTA system, including cutting bus service by 20%, reducing MARC, commuter local bus, and paratransit service, and cutting the MTA’s already strained six year capital budget for critical safety needs by $150 million. We, the undersigned, urge rejection of these cuts, which would be devastating to many Marylanders that live in low-income communities, communities of color, and people with disabilities.

Rather than take steps to relieve the strain of a veritable tsunami of challenges to Maryland’s most vulnerable communities, MTA’s plan would exacerbate residents’ difficulties and hobble the state’s recovery. TransitCenter found that 40% of transit commuters in Baltimore City and 35% of transit riders in the state work in essential job sectors, with hospital and health care workers being the largest share of riders. A large number of essential workers – nurses, grocery store workers, child care professionals, nursing care staff, and so many more – rely on public transit to get to their jobs. The proposed cuts would make it harder for these vital workers to get to their jobs, which would threaten their employment and exacerbate the devastation the pandemic has wrought to our economy. A shortage of these critical workers will also add strain to a healthcare system that is already spread too thin.

Maryland should be investing in more public transportation, not less. We should be increasing access to job centers from the communities most in need, not cutting it. We should be prioritizing cleaner transportation alternatives that reduce pollution and the health conditions that make marginalized communities especially vulnerable to the impacts of coronavirus and other respiratory illnesses like asthma. Vehicle emissions also create NOx that ultimately contributes roughly one-third of the nitrogen pollution to the region’s rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay.

Among the problematic cuts to service, the proposed changes eliminate any route from Baltimore City (the jurisdiction with the highest reliance on public transportation) to Annapolis. Even in its current state, public transit to Annapolis is extremely limited, but at least it was available and provided mobility services. With the cuts, Annapolis would become inaccessible by public transportation, limiting the ability of many Marylanders to participate in our state’s Democracy. Public participation is always essential to a free and fair government, but never more so than in a crisis.

In reference to Maryland’s essential workers, the Maryland Transit Caucus has stated in their letter to the administration following the proposed cuts: We rely on them. They rely on MTA. We call on the administration to take immediate action. Funding from the Transportation Trust Fund should be allocated to public transit that benefits all Marylanders, rather than to highway expansion and construction projects that benefit only the wealthiest.

Signed,

  1. Maryland League of Conservation Voters
  2. Maryland Sierra Club
  3. Common Cause Maryland
  4. Clean Water Action
  5. Climate Law & Policy Project
  6. Safe Skies Maryland
  7. Maryland Legislative Coalition
  8. Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition
  9. Maryland Campaign for Human Rights
  10. Coalition for Smarter Growth
  11. Baltimore Transit Equity Coalition
  12. Transit Choices
  13. Central Maryland Transportation Alliance
  14. Maryland United for Peace and Justice
  15. Sunrise Movement Baltimore
  16. League of Women Voters Maryland
  17. Maryland Nonprofits
  18. Nuclear Information and Resource Service
  19. Labor Network for Sustainability
  20. Family League of Baltimore
  21. Bikemore
  22. Eastern Shore Land Conservancy
  23. Maryland Center on Economic Policy
  24. Job Opportunities Task Force
  25. NAACP Maryland State Conference
  26. Public Justice Center
  27. Our Revolution Maryland
  28. Indivisible Baltimore
  29. Indivisible Howard County
  30. Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility
  31. Echotopia, LLC
  32. Maryland Conservation Council
  33. Ji’Aire’s Workgroup
  34. Indivisible Towson
  35. ATU Local 1300
  36. Food and Water Watch Action
  37. Chesapeake Bay Foundation
  38. Disability Rights Maryland
  39. Consumer Advocates for Ride Services
  40. Progressive Maryland
  41. Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of Mary
  42. Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) – Baltimore
  43. WISE Maryland
  44. Maryland Climate Justice WIng
  45. Takoma Park Mobilization Environment Committee
  46. Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake
  47. Accessible Resources for Independence
  48. League for People with Disabilities
  49. Climate X-Change Maryland
  50. The Nature Conservancy – Maryland/DC Chapter
  51. Saltzberg Consulting
  52. Chesapeake Climate Action Network
  53. Sunrise Howard County
  54. Baltimore 350
  55. The Parent and Community Advisory Board, Baltimore City Public Schools
  56. Sunrise Rockville
  57. Marylanders for Patient Rights
  58. Bus Workgroup 14
  59. South Baltimore Community Land Trust
  60. Free Your Voice
  61. Represent Maryland
  62. Green Team at St. Vincent de Paul Church, Baltimore
  63. Baltimore People’s Climate Movement
  64. The Climate Reality Project: Baltimore Chapter
By |2020-09-15T13:24:20-04:00September 15th, 2020|Categories: Blog, Press|Tags: , |0 Comments

U.S. Congress Passes Great American Outdoors Act

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 22, 2020
Contact: Ben Alexandro, balexandro@mdlcv.org, 845-596-9634

U.S. Congress Passes Great American Outdoors Act

Landmark bill will protect open spaces in Maryland and throughout the United States

Washington, D.C. – By a bipartisan vote of 310-107, the U.S. House of Representatives today passed the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA), a landmark environmental bill that will restore parks and public lands in Maryland and across the country and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Act (LWCF). The bill, which passed the Senate on June 17, now heads to the White House for President Trump’s signature.

“The passage of the Great American Outdoors Act is a significant victory for Maryland,” said Maryland League of Conservation Voters Executive Director, Kim Coble. “The bill guarantees that Marylanders will have access to clean, safe, and healthy parks for years to come.”

The Great American Outdoors Act will allow the National Park Service to restore resources that are deteriorating due to age and inconsistent funding. In Maryland alone, park sites that welcome nearly 7 million visitors and support more than 2,900 jobs each year require $244 million in repairs. The now-permanent LWCF funding is significant for Maryland: The state has received $231.8 million in LWCF funding over the past five decades, protecting places such as the Assateague Island National Seashore, Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Monocacy National Battlefield and the C&O Canal National Historic Park. Maryland also uses LWCF to leverage additional funds, such as state Program Open Space money that funds hundreds of facilities and creates access to local and state parks.

Coble lauded the role of Majority Leader Steny Hoyer in shepherding the Great American Outdoors Act through Congress. “For decades, Marylanders have always known that Steny Hoyer would go to the mat for Maryland’s special places,” said Coble. “His tremendous leadership in moving the Great American Outdoors Act through Congress will provide lasting benefits to Marylanders and all Americans.”

The Maryland League of Conservation and its members weighed in heavily in support of the Great American Outdoors Act. Early in July, Maryland LCV organized 36 Maryland conservation groups to urge Rep. Hoyer’s continued leadership, and Maryland LCV reached hundreds of thousands of Marylanders through drive-time radio ads and extensive on-line advocacy in both English and Spanish. 

Here are quotes from other Maryland organizations that joined with us in advocating for the Great American Outdoors Act:

“Our parks are inundated with people — a great problem to have, but our parks need help so they can remain treasures that connect people to nature while preserving delicate ecosystems. The Great American Outdoors Act is that help,” said Emily Ranson, Clean Water Action, Maryland Director.

“The Alice Ferguson Foundation applauds Majority Leader Hoyer’s continuous leadership of environmental causes both locally and nationally. The Great American Outdoors Act will continue to ensure our national parks thrive for future generations,” said Theresa Cullen, Executive Director, Alice Ferguson Foundation.

“GAOA funding will support our Urban parks and recreational spaces that are used by millions of people close to home,” said  Jim Foster, President, Anacostia Watershed Society.

“This passage of the Great American Outdoors Act ensures that our irreplaceable Maryland parks and public lands will continue to be protected, and that all Marylanders will have access to nature. By continuing to provide funds for our parks we help cool our communities with green spaces as climate change heats up, and create opportunities to expand outdoor education programming,” said Denisse Guitarra, MD Conservation Advocate at Audubon Naturalist Society.

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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.

Maryland League of Conservation Voters
30 West Street, Suite C
Annapolis, MD 21401
www.mdlcv.org