There is important unfinished environmental business in the Maryland Legislature to be taken care of in 2019.
A prime goal for the environment must be clean, renewable energy. Only that can give us healthy air, clear skies and clean water, and slow down climate warming. Children die every year, gasping for breath from asthma due to the unhealthy air they breathe, especially near our power plants. Pollution is wafted through the air and deposited in our rivers and the Bay. The Legislature failed to pass the Clean Energy Jobs bill that would set a goal of 50% renewable energy by 2030.
It’s essential to pass this bill in the Legislature next year.
Another important bill that did not pass last year was the updated Forest Conservation Act that would reduce the destruction of our forests. In Anne Arundel we have lost 14% of forests since 1991, when the earlier, inadequate bill was passed. That bill required only a 25% replacement of cleared trees or a payment in lieu.
The latest bill identified priority forests that would require one-to-one replacement of trees cut down in what are identified as priority forests. The bill also required a strict process of standards be applied before local planning departments can approve cutting down trees. Revisions to the bill for re-introduction next year are being studied by an ad hoc committee of conservationists.
I testified in favor of Forest Conservation Act of 2018 last year in the Legislature and next year I hope to be in the Legislature to vote to pass it.
Banning Styrofoam containers that hurt the fish and litter our landscape is a measure that failed to be enacted in 2018. (Fish ingest the small particles of Styrofoam breakdown and it damages them.) Passage remains for 2019.
These are a few of the issues that need concerted action in 2019. I recommend we all study them and be ready to advocate for them in the coming year.
Susan Cochran is a Democratic candidate for Delegate from Maryland District 30B.