2021 Maryland Legislative Session

Nikki Davis


Marylanders: Urge MD Leaders to Support Climate Solutions Now!
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Heading into the 2021 General Assembly session, Maryland is at a key point in its work to meet the 2025 pollution-reduction goals spelled out in the state's Clean Water Blueprint.

Already, the state has made significant gains in reducing pollutants such as phosphorus and nitrogen by upgrading wastewater treatment plants and implementing a popular annual cover crop subsidy program for farmers. These investments are a key reason why the state is on track to meet its 2025 goals.

However, the state has reached a turning point where most of its wastewater plants have been upgraded and most farmers use cover crops to reduce polluted runoff from leaving their fields. This means state officials will need to shift their focus to different practices to reduce pollution from the state's farms, cities, and towns.

To help make this transition, CBF is putting an emphasis in this year's General Assembly session on trees. Trees are a critical component in efforts to save the Bay and fight climate change. They filter pollutants from water and air and sequester carbon. They are one of the most cost-effective nutrient reduction strategies for agriculture. Trees slow and strain stormwater runoff, reduce power use, and cool urban heat desserts. Maryland’s forests capture 11.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent every year. (Read our blog post, "Maryland Counties Continue Push to Protect Forests as State Regulations Age")

In 2021, we will also continue our strong support for oyster restoration efforts. An aquatic parallel to trees, oysters are a potent water pollution filter. Adult oysters can filter up to 50 gallons of water per day, a process that removes algae and clarifies the water. However, oysters have been struggling in Maryland. Overfishing, pollution, and disease have led to Maryland's oyster population declining from about 600 million oysters in 1999 to about 400 million in 2020, according to Maryland's oyster stock assessment.

More Trees Please!

Simply put, we cannot save the Bay without planting significantly more trees in Maryland. In the 2021 General Assembly session, we're advocating for a climate omnibus bill (SB 414/HB 583), known as "Climate Solutions Now Act of 2021." This bill will move Maryland’s greenhouse gas reduction mandate to net neutral by 2045, invest resources in overburdened communities, protect fossil fuel workers, and enact simple, effective policies to reduce and mitigate our emissions—including planting five million trees by 2030, with 10 percent (500,000) to be planted in underserved urban communities in Maryland.  

Other Priorities

In addition to monitoring all environmental legislation during the 2021 session, CBF will also support:

  • The Plastic Bag Reduction Act—The average American uses 10 plastic bags per week or 520 per year, requiring the same petroleum that it takes to drive 60 miles according to the Center for Biological Diversity. Plastic bags are also one of the top forms of litter found worldwide, including throughout Maryland. As they degrade in the environment, they become microplastics that harm marine life and wildlife, disrupt ecosystems, blight communities and green spaces, and cause costly issues to stormwater and solid waste management as a pollutant in storm drains and waterways.
  • The Transit Equity Recovery Package—Investing in public transportation, especially in times of economic peril, offers the strongest opportunities to advance our state’s commitment to confronting climate change, while bolstering job growth and access and relieving the economic and environmental justice of our most vulnerable and overburdened communities.
  • The Stop PFAS Pollution Act—PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are chemicals polluting our waterways and putting health at risk. These toxic chemicals are linked to serious health impacts, including cancer, immune system deficiencies, high cholesterol and low fertility, as well as developmental issues in children and infants. They are highly persistent and become concentrated inside the bodies of living things—a  dangerous combination.

 

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Do you enjoy working with others to help clean the Chesapeake Bay? Do you have a few hours to spare? Whether growing oysters, planting trees, or helping in our offices, there are plenty of ways you can contribute.

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