2016 Maryland General Assembly
The 2016 Maryland General Assembly session has come to a close. Blue Water Baltimore was on the ground in Annapolis, collaborating with fellow environmental advocates ensuring our local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay are protected while holding our elected officials accountable.
We congratulate our partners and fellow advocates on their victories in expanding renewable energy, reducing greenhouse gases, and protecting our bees from overuse of dangerous pesticides. However, we are disappointed in the outcome of the Community Clean-up and Greening Act of 2016. Blue Water Baltimore is invested in implementing a statewide ban on plastic bags and see this as the next step to ensure we eradicate litter within our city. We will continue to support legislative efforts both locally and on the state level to reduce trash pollution in our communities and waterways.
This session brought a strong showing of bi-partisan support and a commitment to protecting Maryland’s citizens from the health impacts of pollution and we are grateful to our own local champion Del. Brooke Lierman for her dedication to creating a healthy urban environment in Baltimore. A special thank you to our network of dedicated advocates like you, who supported our calls to action and for putting your trust in us. We couldn’t do it without you!
Blue Water Baltimore 2016 Legislative Priorities
Plastic Bag Ban–Community Clean-up and Greening Act of 2016 (HB 31/SB 57)
Plastic bag pollution is a huge problem all across Maryland. Co-sponsored by Del. Lierman, this bill would have banned the distribution of plastic shopping bags altogether and charged consumers 10-cents for each paper bag used. The bill was strongly supported by Blue Water Baltimore and environmental advocates around the state including faith and business leaders. With a favorable recommendation from the Environment Subcommittee, the bill was reported unfavorable from the Environment and Transportation Committee. No action was taken in the Senate. Advocates will continue to push for legislation regarding a bag ban. check out Trash Free Maryland for up to date information.
Protecting our Bees–Pollinator Protection Act of 2016 (HB 211/SB 198)
Scientific evidence has identified “Neonics” as a major contributor to the decline in honeybee populations. This bill bans the sale and use of neonicotinoid pesticides by non-professionals within our state. The bill passed by both chambers with broad bi-partisan support and is awaiting signature from the governor. This bill is the first such legislation passed in the country. Blue Water Baltimore will continue to work with our local growers regarding neonics usage and ensure proper signage is displayed at our Herring Run Nursey as necessary.
Environmental Justice within Underserved Communities Reducing Environmental Degradation for the Underserved Through Community Engagement– The REDUCE Act (HB 820/SB 398)
Low-income communities are disproportionately affected by health risks associated with diesel truck traffic when located near highly utilized trucking routes. This bill aimed to require industries building in such areas to engage with the community to establish routes to reduce the health risks associated with truck traffic. The bill was significantly opposed resulting in an amendment which also received unfavorable votes from the Senate Committee. No action was taken in the House. Blue Water Baltimore is committed to eliminating our community’s exposure to air and water pollution and will continue to advocate for change in how the Maryland Department of the Environment accounts for cumulative impacts of multiple pollution sources.
Environmental Bills this Session
The General Assembly considered many other environmental bills this session, and while Blue Water Baltimore did not work on them directly, we supported efforts to pass them. Here are two of the major bills that were passed:
Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act -Reauthorization (HB 610/ SB 323)
In 2009, the General Assembly passed the initial Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act (GGRA) with a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the State of Maryland 25% by the year 2020. This year both chambers strongly supported an expanded goal of a 40% reduction from peak 2006 levels by the year 2030. The bill passed both chambers with overwhelming and bi-partisan support.
Clean Energy Renewable Energy Standards Revisions (HB 1106/SB 921)
Maryland established a goal in 2009 to raise the amount of energy the state gets from renewable resources to 20% by the year 2022. This bill increased that goal to 25% by the year 2020 through strong bi-partisan support. The bill included the creation of working group to study the best opportunities to fund and administer programs that grow and diversify the workforce and businesses in the clean energy industry.