(ANNAPOLIS, MD)—Alison Prost, Maryland Executive Director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, issued this statement today following two newsworthy developments: Governor O'Malley unveiled his spending plan for Fiscal Year 2014, and sponsors filed HB 106 which would repeal the Sustainable Growth and Agricultural Preservation Act of 2012:
"Today we witness the one-step forward, one-step backward pattern that has plagued the 30-year Chesapeake Bay clean-up effort. On the one hand Governor O'Malley proposed a budget that accelerates our progress, but on the other hand some legislators dug in their heels.
"The Governor's budget increases funding to local counties and municipalities to help clean up local creeks and rivers. But a bill introduced by some rural legislators would allow two million pounds of new nitrogen pollution to be discharged into local waterbodies in their districts.
"In our recently released State of the Bay report we noted the Chesapeake's health index has improved 10 percent since 2008 because of cooperation between government, business, and citizens. Yet we have a long way to go. Cooperation will finish the job, not obstructionism.
"We are disappointed a few rural legislators are fighting against the cleanup of their local creeks and streams. A growing part of that pollution is coming from sprawl development. Legislation passed by the Maryland General Assembly the past session would give counties a tool to better manage that sprawl. That bill makes rural areas stronger by preserving farmland, forest, and their natural ability to filter and clean water, and also by discouraging the use of antiquated septic technology. Yet HB 106 would repeal that bill.
"Now the General Assembly bears the responsibility for giving a healthier Bay to our children and grandchildren, not allowing obstructionists to prevail. Legislators should approve the Governor's proposed spending on clean water, but reject a one-step forward, one-step backward approach."
BACKGROUND - Under Maryland's constitution and duly enacted laws, it is the state which has the primary responsibility for land-use law. The state delegates certain authority to local jurisdictions (for example, the power to plan and zone land), but ultimately, the state may decide that this or that feature of land use planning and zoning law should be changed—and it has the full authority to do so.