Rally in Annapolis calls for state to join Climate Alliance

State Sen. Richard Madeleno speaks at a rally calling on Gov. Larry Hogan to do more to protect the state's environment on Thursday, June 8. (Credit: Food & Water Watch)

Several environmental organizations gathered in front of the state capitol in Annapolis today to urge Gov. Larry Hogan to do more to protect the Chesapeake Bay and the state’s environment in response to President Donald Trump pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Officials from Food & Water Watch, Our Revolution MD, and the Maryland State Conference of the NAACP were joined by a few state legislators as Hogan hosted the annual meeting of the Chesapeake Executive Council of the Chesapeake Bay Program.

“The water quality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed has been declining for years as factory chicken farms on Maryland’s Eastern Shore inundate the area with billions of pounds of waste every year,” Senator Richard Madaleno said in a statement via Food & Water Watch. “It’s time for Hogan to overturn his regressive and weak poultry and agricultural regulations and join the Climate Alliance to make sure our Bay, and our climate, is finally protected.”

Hogan’s office said in a press release this afternoon, however, that the state Department of Natural Resources would be committing $21.54 million to various projects around the state via the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund.

“We have invested the most ever – nearly $145 million dollars – in the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund. Last year was the first time it has ever been fully funded in our state’s history, and we fully funded Bay restoration efforts again this year,” Hogan said in the release. “These 18 shovel-ready projects, totaling more than $21 million dollars of investments, will have a long-lasting, positive impact on the Bay and the environment.”

The press release made no mention of any actions to be expected in response to the country pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement, a point that Senator Paul Pinsky seized on at the rally.

“It is sadly ironic that while Gov. Hogan plays host to the Chesapeake Bay states, he’s been silent as President Trump slashes the federal Bay program and withdraws the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accords,” Pinsky said, via Food & Water Watch.

The Chesapeake Executive Council includes representatives from Maryland, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, the District of Columbia, the Chesapeake Bay Commission, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

At today’s meeting, Hogan was elected to serve as the new chair of the Council, succeeding Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who had served as chair since 2015.

The Council also called for a continued partnership with the federal government in Bay cleanup efforts. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, in turn, released a statement commending the Council for their actions today.

“CBF applauds the Executive Council’s strong, bipartisan action to protect the successful Bay Partnership,” CBF President William C. Baker said. “Unless we want this to be the last Executive Council meeting and the end of this historic collaboration, we need to continue to resist actions from the Trump Administration that would undermine state efforts to save the Bay and our rivers and streams.”