The Maryland League of Conservation Voters (Maryland LCV) has released its top issues list for the 2014 Session and will focus on four key issue areas: (1) a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing for natural gas pending completion of impact studies; (2) defending the stormwater utility fee requirement enacted in 2012 (referred to as a “rain tax” by opponents and a “contaminated runoff fee” by Maryland LCV); (3) increasing the clean energy requirements under Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard from 20% t0 40% by 2025; and (4) creating a pesticide application reporting database. From the Maryland LCV website:
Hydraulic Fracturing for Natural Gas
Fracking is a dangerous drilling method used to extract natural gas from shale rock. Around the country, natural gas fracking has attracted widespread attention as surrounding communities have been subjected to drinking and ground water contamination, climate pollution, and land scarring. Due to the threat of these consequences in Maryland, it is imperative that the General Assembly hold off on fracking until careful, independent analyses are completed to determine whether the risky drilling practice makes sense for Maryland.
Defending the Contaminated Runoff Fee Program
In developed areas, water can’t soak into the ground like it normally would, so it washes off of hard surfaces like roads, roofs, and parking lots and carries contaminants like oil, antifreeze, and sediment into local streams and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay. This contaminated runoff is the only source of Bay pollution that is still increasing, and yet some politicians want to repeal the state law passed to address this problem. They mock the contaminated runoff programs as a “rain tax,” deliberately obscuring how the programs work and the seriousness of the pollution they are designed to fix. We intend to uphold the law already passed and educate Marylanders on how the program works to improve the quality of the Bay.
Global warming is accelerating faster than scientists predicted even five years ago. Now it’s even more critical that we shift away from fossil fuels, and yet nearly half of Maryland’s greenhouse gas emissions still come from burning coal, oil and gas for electricity. The good news is Maryland has a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), which requires electricity suppliers to buy a growing share of their power from renewable sources. The current goal is to reach 20% clean power by 2022 and make sure the right types of energy are being incentivized but we need a bold new goal of 40% by 2025 to achieve clean energy faster.
Pesticides Reporting Database
Pesticides pose a serious risk to our health, to the Chesapeake Bay and local waterways- but Maryland lacks the information we need about pesticide use. We need pesticide applicators, as well as sellers of restricted use pesticides, to report the information they are already required to maintain so research scientists and environmental and public health experts will have data they can use to determine if and when pesticides are affecting our health and our waters. This legislation will be coming out of the 2013 Pesticide Reporting and Information workgroup that met over the summer. The database will be paid for a moderate fee increase to pesticide manufacturers.
Maryland LCV plans on hosting its 20th Annual Environmental Summit on January 21. The event is attending by members of the Administration, General Assembly, environmental community, and other interested stakeholder groups.