On the Advocacy Front Lines

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This is meant to be a blog post about Blue Water Baltimore’s advocacy work – and it is – but I’m going to make it a wee bit personal.  My name is Mike Aaron.  I’ve now been working for Blue Water Baltimore for five months.  I was hired for both administrative and advocacy support, which means I tend to be a Jack of all trades, but a significant portion of my trade is advocacy.  Let me just say that I’m amazed at how many fronts we’re working on simultaneously.

Blue Water Baltimore is primarily a programmatic nonprofit, meaning that the bulk of our 17 employees are involved in tree plantings, water audits, stream cleanups, pollution monitoring, landscaping, community engagement, pavement reduction, etc….boots in the dirt or in the water.  But it’s important to keep in mind how tied each of those activities are to some regulation, law, or rule.  And those are constantly in need of update or under attack.  And boy, there are a lot of them.  Here’s the basic list of what we’re working on:

State legislature

This is the most significant session for clean water efforts in many years.  We’re currently working at the legislature on bills dealing with:

  • increasing the Bay Restoration Fund (HB 85/87; SB 150/152);
  • Fishable and Swimmable Waters by 2025, working to ensure the effectiveness of our “pollution diets” (HB/SB TBD);
  • funding and upgrading our Wastewater Treatment Plants (HB/SB TBD);
  • creating the infrastructure and funding for storm water utilities and upgrades (HB/SB TBD);
  • establishing recycling options for apartments and condominiums (HB 1);
  • repealing the tax credit for coal (HB 65); and
  • reducing plastic bag waste (HB/SB TBD)

Blue Water Baltimore is working to see these pieces of legislation through to implementation.  Watch for an action alert when we need some help!

State Agencies

As a result of a lawsuit regarding pollution flowing into the Chesapeake Bay, the EPA has been forced to measure and reduce the amount of pollution flowing into the Chesapeake.  Water pollution flows downhill and so the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) has become responsible for overseeing Maryland’s efforts. In turn, the counties have had to measure and devise their own reduction strategies.  The MDE has set meetings to allow the public to learn, and is also taking public comments on these important efforts; we’ll send details shortly.

Blue Water Baltimore is up to the top of our hip waders, working to ensure that the WIPs are strong and meaningful.

Hmmmm.  Looking at it in its summary form like that, it doesn’t seem nearly as overwhelming as it feels on a day-to-day basis.  Today I submitted written testimony on behalf of BWB, contacted Senate offices to ask about co-sponsorship of a bill, researched legislative districts and worked to help promote a local WIP strategy.  It’s occasionally baffling and often exhausting, but it’s exhilarating and important work and makes me feel like I’ve done something worthwhile at the end of the day.

 

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