In today’s Baltimore Sun, the paper’s editorial staff writes about the difficulty and cost of the proposed Chesapeake Bay pollution diet, but concludes that the goals are worth the effort. The editorial argues that local governments cannot take a “business as usual” approach to the Bay cleanup.
That could well describe the flotilla of local government leaders who continue to protest bitterly over the projected cost of a Chesapeake Bay cleanup and Gov. Martin O’Malley’s PlanMaryland curbs on taxpayer-supported sprawl. The cleanup plan has them not only worried about the possible billions of dollars involved but also attacking the basic science and assumptions behind the multistate bay restoration effort led by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
And it’s not just the rural counties that are fighting the EPA’s “pollution diet” and steps the O’Malley administration is taking to help Maryland meet its long-term targets — including the anti-sprawl regulations and proposed restrictions on residential septic systems. Baltimore City and some suburban counties have expressed concerns, too, as plans call for major new investments to curb storm water runoff and other sources of pollution. …
Certainly, the costs involved are daunting, particularly as seen through the prism of several years of difficult government cost-cutting. Voters are seldom happy to hear about new taxes or fees. People are more comfortable with the notion that pollution is something someone else has caused, not them.
But as opinion polls have demonstrated over and over again, Maryland residents are willing to pay a bit more in taxes to state and local government if the result is a cleaner Chesapeake Bay. The bay means that much to them, and people instinctively understand that some sacrifice is required. They just don’t want to see their efforts wasted or big polluters not held accountable.