Maryland Assembly session gives environmentalists ‘reason to celebrate’
Maryland Assembly session gives environmentalists ‘reason to celebrate’.
Lawmakers ban fracking, freeze changes to oyster sanctuaries, pass more green-backed bills From “fracking” to oysters to clean energy, environmentalists had multiple reasons to smile when Maryland’s lawmakers wrapped up their work in Annapolis earlier this week.
Larry Hogan, the General Assembly made Maryland the first state with known natural gas reserves to pass legislation prohibiting hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to extract it.
Lawmakers bucked opposition from the Hogan administration, meanwhile, to impose a moratorium on opening any of the state’s 51 oyster sanctuaries to commercial harvesting.
That vote in late March came in response to a plan drafted by the Department of Natural Resources to open some areas put off-limits to harvest seven years ago.
Watermen said they wanted to try a new “rotational harvest” plan in some sanctuaries where oysters didn’t appear to be thriving.
They managed to craft a $43.5 billion state budget without slashing Bay restoration and other environmental programs.
Ann Swanson, executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Commission, said those bills marked a significant milestone: “It celebrated the fact that Maryland had used its dedicated funds to retrofit its largest sewage treatment plants, and now could begin redirecting the money to the next tier of important work.” The legislature’s Democratic majority also pushed through a resolution opposing the Trump administration’s proposal to eliminate federal funding for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay Program and slash the Bay-related efforts of other agencies.
Other measures of note that passed: – Energy: Lawmakers overrode a Hogan veto of a renewable energy bill that passed last year.
Some Bay-related bills pushed by environmentalists failed to pass, leaving advocates to hope they may fare better next year after further study.