Governor O'Malley Participates in Environmental Rally
Joins Over 200 Environmentalists in Lawyer's Mall; Highlights Environmental Initiatives
Governor Martin O'Malley today joined over 200 environmentalists, advocates and community and business leaders from across the State today at a rally in support of legislation and actions that would combat global climate change, help protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay, and protect our environment.
"The climate crisis is real. We must act now to reduce global climate change," Governor O'Malley said. "I believe if we act responsibly and set goals, we can help reduce the effects of global warming, improve the health of our Bay, and ensure that the air we breathe, the water we drink, the land we use, the energy we consume is protected for generations to come."
This year, Governor O'Malley has proposed legislation that would implement the Chesapeake Bay 2010 Trust Fund; permit the State to aggressively promote transit-oriented development (TOD) as a smart growth tool to revitalize communities and curb sprawl; and update and strengthen Maryland's critical areas law to ensure more adequate protection of the most environmentally sensitive and significant lands within Maryland's Chesapeake and Coastal Bays watersheds.
"Maryland has a choice of whether to be a leader or a follower in the transition to a clean energy economy," Brad Heavner, Director of Environment Maryland said. "If we plan the transition now, we can get the benefits of new jobs without shocks to our economy or negative impacts on traditional manufacturing sectors."
Governor O'Malley endorsed the Global Warming Solutions Act (SB309/HB712), which is sponsored by Senator Paul Pinsky and Delegate Kumar Barve, a bill that would reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions in Maryland by 25 percent by 2020, and 90 percent by 2050. If passed, the Global Warming Solutions Act would have the strongest greenhouse gas reduction targets in the nation.
Scientists estimate that if greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase at the present rate, sea level will rise by over 2 feet along Maryland's 7,000 miles of shoreline during this century when the rate of regional land subsidence is taken into account. Some scientists estimate it will be greater, as much as 4 feet in Maryland by the end of the 21st century. Not only will islands and wetlands disappear even more rapidly than they have during the 20th century, but human settlements from coastal communities to the oldest parts of our historic port cities will be at increasing risk, particularly during storm surges that are likely to intensify. Global climate change has and will result in increasing Bay temperatures and average air temperatures.
"Future Marylanders will remember Martin O'Malley as the leader who began in earnest the clean-energy transformation that strengthened our 21st century economy and saved our children from ever seeing 10 feet of sea-level rise along our cherished coastlines," said Mike Tidwell, Founder and Director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. "Today is a historic day."
"The Maryland League of Conservation Voters endorsed Martin O'Malley for Governor in 2006 because we believed he would be a true leader for the environment," Cindy Schwartz, Executive Director of Maryland League of Conservation Voters said. "I am proud to stand here today and say not only has he proved himself to be a leader for the environment, but he is emerging as one of our nation's strongest leaders in the fight to stop global warming."
In the last year, Governor O'Malley has taken a number of actions to help protect the environment and restore the health of the Chesapeake Bay, including:
* Created the Chesapeake Bay 2010 Trust Fund to help restore the health of the Chesapeake Bay;
* Led efforts to improve the Chesapeake Bay, signing laws to improve stormwater management and require phosphorus-free detergent, and accepting regional Forest Conservation Agreement;
* Established BayStat to coordinate public, private, non-profit efforts to save the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries;
* Created the Climate Change Commission to develop an action plan to address climate change in Maryland and rising sea levels in the Chesapeake Bay;
* Fought for and signed into law the Clean Cars law to clean our air;
* Launched the EmPOWER Maryland Initiative, setting the most ambitious goal in the nation to decrease per capita energy consumption 15% by 2015;
* Fought sprawl and traffic by blocking the massive Four Seasons development on the Bay, fully funding Program Open Space and restoring Maryland's leadership in Smart Growth;
* Joined the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, working with 9 other states to reduce emissions and fight global warming;
* Boosted renewable energy with a law making solar energy more affordable, and the Clean Energy Schools initiative to put solar panels on schools;
* Helped farmers protect the land by keeping farming profitable, investing a record $8 million in cover crop programs and tripled annual budget for MARBIDCO and agricultural innovation; and
* Passed the Oyster Restoration Act to restore oyster population of the Bay.