Sun Article on Hogan/Frosh Relationship: Conflict or Collaboration on Environmental Issues?

A December 10 Baltimore Sun article examined the potential relationship between incoming Governor Larry Hogan and incoming Attorney General Brian Frosh on environmental issues, particularly on efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay.  Noting that the two have “clashed in the past,” the article explored how they will need to adapt to each other’s sometimes conflicting viewpoints and the roles of their new offices.

Governor-Elect Hogan has previously argued against what he sees as overly invasive environmental regulations such as the 2012 stormwater remediation fee legislation and the recently proposed phosphorus management tool regulations for agriculture.  In his role as a state legislator, Frosh has supported many pieces of environmental legislation including both the stormwater fee legislation and new pollution limits on farmers.  From the article:

As they prepare to meet Friday, Gov.-elect Larry Hogan and Attorney General-elect Brian E. Frosh both say they want to turn the page and work together. But the two men could find themselves at odds.  …

Asked about Frosh this week, Hogan sounded a hopeful note.

“We’ve had some differences of opinion,” Hogan said, “but I’m looking forward to sitting down with him and seeing where we can find common ground.”

Frosh likewise struck a positive tone.

“I’m not going into this anticipating there’s going to be conflict,” Frosh said. “I think we’re going to be able to work together.”

The article described some of the relationships and environmental issue conflicts between previous governors and their attorney generals, as well as prior disagreements between Hogan and Frosh.  The article also stressed Frosh’s stated priority of enforcing environmental laws:

“You can pass all the laws you want,” Frosh said, “but if you don’t enforce them, they have no effect.”

Frosh said he plans to go after polluters wherever they are. But that could put him crosswise at times with his client, the governor. Although Hogan has declined to say much about his policies prior to being sworn in Jan. 21, he has vowed to repeal the stormwater fee law and to fight the farm pollution rules being put forward in the waning days of the O’Malley administration.  …

“There is potential for conflict [with Hogan],” Frosh acknowledged “I hope there won’t be any. I think if we find someone breaking the law, I’ll be able to agree with the governor on what to do about it.”

The article also provided the perspective of numerous other environmental stakeholders, legal experts, and legislators:

Rena Steinzor, a University of Maryland law professor who specializes in environmental issues, said some activists may be expecting too much from Frosh.

“He’s a cop now,” she said, “not a general all-around policy guy. … I hope they understand what his office does, because he can’t necessarily stick his nose into all the policy problems. He needs to be the attorney general first and foremost, and that’s law enforcement.”  …

Sen. Paul G. Pinsky, a Prince George’s County Democrat and fellow environmental advocate, predicted that Frosh would do his best to find common ground with the new governor.

Pinsky added, however, “Brian will do what he has to do to enforce the law.”

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