Patuxent Riverkeeper View of Stormwater Management Regulation “Compromise”

An interesting opinion piece published on the Patuxent Riverkeeper website on May 7 concerning the stormwater management regulation compromise.  The Patuxent Riverkeepers were part of a coalition of environmentalists who opposed the compromise.  The article focuses on the political process and why the compromise agreement enjoyed support from even environmentally friendly legislators.

One advantage of the so called “compromise” or weakening of the stormwater regulations that has been unsaid in most of the trite explanations being sent around to irate environmentalists by “apologists” is that it also allows legislators to appease the maximum number of constituents without appearing polarized. The legislators covet both the support of builders and also environmental voters in an election year. The political theater merges the varied needs of many interest groups. Everybody has a different agenda and nobody gets anything done unless they both give and get a little. It is a perverse and cynical system that rewards people of both good faith and bad by giving them all an incentive to cooperate in some instances with passing bad laws just so we can at times pass some good ones too. As voters and citizens, we need to do better than this antiquated system. …

Several legislators who are usually good on the environment voted for the emergency regs. This has further confused some voters. But remember, that the building was on fire and some of these people climbed out of the best window or loophole available to them under the circumstances in order to protect themselves from getting burned politically. Others did not. Some believed that since compromise was probably inevitable as a way of life and politics that this one was the very best we and the environment could get–even while it was also the best deal that developer’s money could buy. For the purposes of an environmental or legislative endorsement, I think it is more gray than black and white. One would have to look more closely at a particular legislator’s motives and circumstances to get the full story.

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