Celebrate Earth Today

By Laura Wood, Development Director

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay well and healthy,

Laura Wood, Development Director

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

 

2020 Legislative Wrap Up

By Kim Coble, Executive Director

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

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

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

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

To see the full legislative summary, go here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for being a conservation voter,

Kim Coble, Maryland LCV
Executive Director

The full legislative summary is here.

Stay connected with us while practicing social distancing:

  

Special Update: Coronavirus, the environment and the legislative session

By Kim Coble, Executive Director

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you and take care,

Kim Coble, Maryland LCV
Executive Director

Stay connected with us while practicing social distancing:

  

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

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 10, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maryland League of Conservation Voters Board of Directors:

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

Maryland League of Conservation Voters Education Fund Board of Directors:

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

###

Maryland LCV is known for educating lawmakers and holding them accountable for their leadership and votes on key environmental issues. Their annual scorecard, along with other reports, help inform voters about their legislators’ records.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another Captain for the Planet

By Captain Donald Lawson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 ____________________________________________________________

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

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

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

Originally posted on LCV

Statement on Frederick County’s Introduction of a Strong Forest Bill

IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 14, 2020

Contact:

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

TOP STATEWIDE ENVIRONMENTAL GROUP APPLAUDS FREDERICK COUNTY FOR INTRODUCING STRONG FOREST PROTECTION BILL

Frederick, MD – Maryland League of Conservation Voters joins environmental partners Preservation Maryland, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Sierra Club, Clean Water Action,  Frederick County Councilmember Kai Hagen and Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner for introducing the Frederick County Forest Resource Ordinance (FRO). This bill will protect forests in Frederick County by creating a true no net loss program in Frederick County.

“We are grateful to County Executive Gardner and Councilmember Hagen for introducing a bill, if passed, will create the strongest County level forest conservation program in the state.” said Kim Coble, Executive Director at Maryland LCV.

“Years ago, Frederick County had a strong Forest Resource Ordinance that was repealed. We now see forests being lost to rampant overdevelopment that can be successfully curtailed with this bill,” said Ben Alexandro, Water Policy Director at the Maryland League of Conservation Voters. 

The benefits of forests are immeasurable. They filter our waters, increase property values, reduce energy costs, provide clean air and wildlife habitat, improve public health, and are a critical solution in the fight against the climate crisis. 

###

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.  

30 West Street Suite C Annapolis, MD 21401 410-280-9855

www.mdlcv.org 

By |2020-02-14T12:16:12-05:00February 14th, 2020|Categories: Press|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

Where you’ll find the lobbyists in Annapolis

By Kristen Harbeson, resident Lobbyist and Political Director

I love tracking my steps during session – wondering how many miles I logged in a day.  Although there are days when my feet ache from all the walking, there is at least as much sitting as there is walking: sitting in committee rooms (and occasionally on the floor outside of committee rooms); sitting around tables during coalition meetings and while talking to legislators; sitting in the public lounges for emergency conversations with colleagues.

One of the most likely places you’ll find me during much of the Session is in a wingback chair in the hallway on the second floor of the House Office Building.  From there, I can talk to Delegates and their staff pass by on their way to and from the Environment and Transportation and Economic Matters Committees.  I’m not the only one who tends to find herself there – it’s a spot where lobbyists from every kind of advocacy group will find a place to take a call, charge their phones, or catch a few minutes on their laptops between meetings.

These kinds of relaxed locations are where conversations happen that build community, and sometimes provide news in bits and pieces that, when taken together, can help provide context to help shape a legislative strategy.

Ramon Palencia-Calvo, our Deputy Director testifies for one of our priority pieces of legislation.

Ramon Palencia-Calvo, our Deputy Director testifies for one of our priority pieces of legislation.

This week there was a hearing on our first priority bill.  Ramon testified on the importance of fully funding the Maryland Transit Authority, which has a $2 billion shortfall over the next ten years according to a study released last summer. The MTA serves every jurisdiction in the state, but low-income and already disadvantaged communities suffer the most from failures due to inadequate maintenance. Additionally, a strong, affordable, and accessible public transportation system is essential to reducing Maryland’s greenhouse gas pollution. (Did you know that the transportation sector – especially highway traffic – represents more than 40% of our greenhouse gasses?!) This is always an important moment in a campaign.  It’s the first time that arguments for and against are presented side by side, and examined by the committees who make the decision of what happens next. It’s a little bit like a play, and a little bit like a polite boxing match.

In this case, the hearing was in front of the House Appropriations Committee which works with the State Budget.  Ramon, and all of our partners provided strong testimony after the bill was presented by Delegate Lierman.  The Department of Transportation spoke against the bill, which isn’t uncommon, especially for bills that require the Governor to spend money in a specific way. Next week, the same bill will be heard in the Senate, and then we work on the next step: A vote from subcommittee.

Sitting or standing, or running through the halls, you can count on your Maryland LCV staff working hard next week to pass strong environmental laws.  Next week we’ll have some marathon bill hearings, too, so stay tuned!