ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Over 500 Marylanders from around the state virtually attended the 28th Annual Environmental Legislative Summit in Annapolis on Tuesday, January 25 in support of the environmental community’s legislative agenda for the 2022 general assembly session.
Chair of House Appropriations Committee Maggie McIntosh, a representative from the Hogan administration Andrew Cassilly, Chair of the Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Paul Pinsky, and the Chair Environment and Transportation committee, Kumar Barve all spoke about the crucial importance of environmental progress this legislative session. The keynote speaker for the evening was Environmental Protection Agency Region 3 Administrator Adam Ortiz, who outlined how Maryland’s environmental initiatives contribute to the overall efforts of his region.
“The environmental community is committed to raising our voices in support of these critical legislative priorities,” said Kristen Harbeson, Maryland LCV political director. “Front and center for us in this critical year is the passage of equitable laws and policies for healthy air and a resilient climate for the future of Maryland.”
Environmental advocates outlined this year’s legislative agenda, which includes: the Environmental Human Rights Amendment, a comprehensive package of climate legislation, and restricting use and disposal of dangerous PFAS chemicals.
The Environmental Human Rights Amendment would further protect each person’s right to a healthful environment. “Decisions made at the state and local level impact our health and the health of our air, water, lands, wildlife and ecosystems. Caring for the environment, and protecting the state’s natural resources, are two of government’s most precious responsibilities,” said Nina Beth Cardin, Director of the Maryland Campaign for Environmental Human Rights. “This amendment ensures that our government lives up to this task, enabling us, our children and our children’s children to live in a state that is healthy, regenerative and economically sound.”
The goals of this year’s climate legislation are to increase Maryland’s greenhouse gas reduction requirements to 60% below 2006 levels by 2030, to be net neutral by 2045, and to take the necessary steps to achieve these goals. “With the impacts of climate change in evidence all around us, action can’t wait. 2022 is the year we must pass bold comprehensive climate change legislation in Maryland,” said Laurie McGilvray, Co-Chair Climate Justice Wing of the Maryland Legislative Coalition.
The George “Walter” Taylor Act aims to restrict PFAS use and disposal. “It’s alarming to know that Maryland offers little or no protections for toxic PFAS contamination in our water and communities,” said Maryland PIRG Director Emily Scarr. “In order to protect the drinking water and health of Maryland families we need our legislative leaders to turn off the tap on PFAS contamination by passing the George “Walter” Taylor Act.”
Participants also discussed the state budget, including incoming federal dollars, and ensuring that it prioritizes the environment and environmental justice.