Md. League of Con­ser­va­tion Vot­ers rates Ho­gan ‘high’

How­ever, notes gov. has room for im­prove­ment

Maryland Independent - - News - By CAR­RIE SNURR

AN­NAPO­LIS — The Maryland League of Con­ser­va­tion Vot­ers on Tues­day gave Maryland Gov. Larry Ho­gan high marks for his com­mit- ment to pre­serv­ing open space, but an over­all “Needs Im­prove­ment” grade on its 2017 re­port card, largely be­cause, the group said, the Repub­li­can gov­er­nor’s stat- ed en­vi­ron­men­tal po­si­tions are not sup­ported fully by his leg­isla­tive ac­tions.

“We want to give him credit for his ac­com­plish­ments but there is still room for im­prove­ment,” Ed Hatcher, chair of the Maryland League of Con­ser­va­tion Vot­ers, said Tues­day.

The group com­mended Ho­gan for hav­ing a “clear com­mit­ment” to pro­tect- ing open space in the state. They also said that Ho­gan used his po­si­tion to pro­mote good gov­ern­ment.

And the re­port high­lighted three bills Ho­gan pushed that re­formed Maryland’s Pub­lic In­for- ma­tion Act to im­prove the re­spon­sive­ness of agen­cies, and cre­ate a Pub­lic In­for­ma­tion Act Com­pli­ance Board in 2015.

The re­port card is based on six cat­e­gories: en­ergy and cli­mate change; trans­porta­tion; ad­min­is­tra­tion and ap­point­ments; land preser- va­tion and pro­gram open space; wa­ter qual­ity; and democ­racy.

Ho­gan scored “ex­cel- lent” in the cat­e­gory of Land Preser­va­tion and Pro­gram Open Space. The group gave Ho­gan a “mixed” score for the cat­e­gories of democ­racy, and ad­min­is­tra­tion and ap­point­ments. He re­ceived a score of “needs im­prove­ment” in the other three cat­e­gories.

“This mark re­flects ac- tions that do not sup­port the strong pro-en­vi­ron­ment state­ments Gov- er­nor Ho­gan has made since the be­gin­ning of his term,” the re­port said. It con­tin­ued: “Ho­gan’s words speak of a Mary­lan­der ded­i­cated to pre­serv­ing the nat­u­ral won­der and beauty of a state he loves, but his ac- tions don’t al­ways pri­or­i­tize en­vi­ron­men­tal and pub­lic health.”

“We ap­pre­ci­ate the Maryland League of Con­ser­va­tion Vot­ers and all the great work they do, but we whole­heart- edly dis­agree with their as­sess­ment,” Ho­gan’s press of­fice said in a state­ment emailed to the Univer­sity of Maryland’s Capital News Ser­vice.

“Since tak­ing of­fice, the Ho­gan ad­min­is­tra­tion has con­sis­tently sup­port- ed ef­forts to im­prove air and wa­ter qual­ity in our state and will con­tinue to make it a fo­cus go­ing for­ward.” The state­ment added that the Ch­esa- peake Bay Foun­da­tion last year gave the Bay its high­est rat­ing since it started grad­ing the wa­ter qual­ity in 1998.

“The gov­er­nor’s bud­get reaf­firms his com­mit­ment to the en­vi­ron­ment and our trea­sured nat­u­ral re­sources, in­clud­ing the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay,” Mark Bel­ton, the Maryland Depart­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources sec­re­tary, said Tues­day in a press re­lease.

Ho­gan’s bud­get fully funds the Ch­e­sa­peake and At­lantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund for the 2018 fis­cal year for the sec­ond year in a row, only the sec­ond time that restora­tion ef­forts of the bay have been fully funded, Bel­ton’s press re­lease said.

The league’s re­port noted that Maryland has one of the high­est lev­els of smog in the east­ern por­tion of the United States.

It also rated Ho­gan as “poor” un­der vot­ing rights laws based on his veto of a bill that would have given al­most 40,000 for­mer in­mates con­vict- ed felons the abil­ity to reg­is­ter to vote. Hatcher said that the group em­pha­sizes vot­ing rights be­cause it be­lieves that if more peo­ple can vote more peo­ple can help make changes to ben­e­fit the en­vi­ron­ment.

Hatcher said Ho­gan sup­ported goals laid out by the state’s Green­house Gas Re­duc­tion Act — which the gover- nor signed and which re­quires a re­duc­tion of global warming pol­lu­tion of 40 per­cent by 2030.

But the gov­er­nor ve­toed an ex­pan­sion of the Re­new­able Port­fo­lio Stan­dard, which the group called an es­sen­tial com­po­nent to reach­ing the goals laid out in the act.

The House of Del­e­gates and the Se­nate have sched­uled veto over­ride votes for later this ses­sion.

The port­fo­lio stan­dard would have man­dated that Maryland de­rive 25 per­cent of its en­ergy from re­new­able re­sources. It would have been an ex­pan­sion to an ear­lier man­date, which re­quired 20 per­cent of Maryland’s en­ergy come from re­new­able sources by 2022.

“We want to hold the gov­er­nor ac­count­able,” Hatcher said, “this re­port card does that. We want to pro­vide a roadmap for how he can be an en­vi­ron­men­tal gov­er­nor.”

He added that when the rat­ings had been let- ter grades, as in ear­lier years, there had been too much em­pha­sis on the grade it­self, rather than on the as­sess­ment of the gov­er­nor’s per­for- mance. The group wants to main­tain an open dia- logue with Ho­gan’s ad­min­is­tra­tion to im­prove en­vi­ron­men­tal stan­dards and con­di­tions in Mar yland.

Hatcher and Karla Raet­tig, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec- tor for the group, both em­pha­sized the need for stronger en­vi­ron­men­tal poli­cies at the state level be­cause of the new ad­min­is­tra­tion in Wash­ing­ton. Hatcher said that un­der Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion, state ac­tion be­comes much more im­por­tant.

“We will not be able to rely on the fed­eral ad­min­is­tra­tion [to pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment],” Raet­tig added, “We hope to see him [Ho­gan] re­ally step up in the com­ing years.”

Trump has ex­pressed that he in­tends to roll back en­vi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tions. He signed ex­ec­u­tive or­ders to re­vive two con­tro­ver­sial oil pipe­lines — the Key- stone XL and the Dakota Ac­cess pipe­lines — on Tues­day.

The League of Con­ser­va­tion Vot­ers de­scribes it­self as a non­par­ti­san watch­dog or­ga­ni­za­tion that en­dorses pro-con­ser­va­tion can­di­dates and ad­vo­cates for pro-en­vi­ron­men­tal poli­cies.

It is­sues score cards ev­ery year for each mem- ber of the Maryland leg- is­la­ture based on their vot­ing record on en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues. The group also ex­am­ines ses­sion leg­is­la­tion that im­pacts the en­vi­ron­ment.

This is the first full re­port card that the group is­sued for Ho­gan. They is­sue a re­port card ev­ery two years, how­ever, they did not is­sue a re­port card at the end of for­mer Gov. Martin O’Mal­ley’s term. The group is­sued a pre­lim­i­nary score­card for Ho­gan’s first 100 days.

“It’s been four years since we’ve done a re­port card be­cause we’ve had a change in ad­min­is­tra­tion,” Raet­tig said in a phone call with the Univer­sity of Maryland’s Capital News Ser­vice.

That 100-day re­port stated that Ho­gan ad­vanced en­vi­ron­men­tal progress but said that many of his po­si­tions on en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues were still un­known.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.