Maryland, more than almost any other state, has a fundamental interest in protecting the environment for future generations. With our way of life and our economy so strictly tied to natural wonders like the Chesapeake Bay and Western Maryland, we must make investments to ensure that these treasures are protected from pollution, climate change, and rising sea levels.
Maryland has almost 8,000 miles of shoreline and at least 22 communities that are predicted to face chronic inundation by 2035. We cannot wait; this is an issue that we must address immediately. Protecting Maryland’s environment is, in many ways, a life and death issue. Clean air and clean water are fundamental rights, and we have both a moral and an economic imperative to protect our environment. As Governor, that is what I will do.
Pollution in our air and water – often times coming from outside of Maryland – threatens the health of our citizens for generations to come. It is critical that the federal government has strong protections in place and that the federal government works with other countries to reduce pollution and emissions. Unfortunately, protecting the environment is not a priority for President Trump. The president made the incomprehensible decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord, and the EPA’s Clean Power plan is facing repeal. President Trump also has proposed in his budgets to zero-out funding for the Chesapeake Bay restoration. He has decided to allow offshore drilling along Maryland’s coastlines, he is continually working to repeal environmental protections, and he is leading a war on climate science.
Governor Hogan has not stood up against President Trump’s backwards and harmful environmental policies, and he has rolled back protections in Maryland. He has limited the resources that are available to environmental inspectors, and the prosecution of environmental crimes is at a 20-year low. He has tried to eliminate the protections for Maryland oyster sanctuaries that have helped to rebuild and stabilize the population. And, his transportation plans focus on putting as many cars on the road as possible, which will significantly harm Maryland’s environment.
Creating an environmentally friendly economy presents significant economic opportunity. Expanding investments in Maryland’s renewable energy industry and upgrading the state’s infrastructure will create good paying jobs across the state and position Maryland to compete economically for decades and centuries to come.
The constant battle between growing the economy and protecting the environment is a false trade-off. We can encourage economic growth, especially in our agriculture sector, without compromising our commitment to protecting the environment. Environmental protections create a fair playing field and support the businesses that are not willing to cut corners to make a quick profit. I will work to ensure that the Department of the Environment and the Attorney General’s Office have the resources they need for inspection and enforcement. In industries that do affect the environment, we will work with businesses and reward innovation that moves towards more sustainable practices.
Shifting Maryland’s energy consumption to renewables is both a method for economic growth and environmental preservation. By 2030, at least 50 percent of our energy consumption should come from renewable source. By 2050, that number should be 100%. In order to reach these goals, however, Maryland must support the construction of new renewable energy production, including offshore wind projects. As part of a larger focus on vocational and apprenticeship programs, the state must augment career training opportunities for those who will move into the renewable energy sector. And, the state must provide incentives to businesses who are on the cutting edge of renewable energy production to bring the opportunities that come with renewable energy production, including more jobs and better wages, to the people of Maryland.
Maryland must work to protect our natural spaces, like the Chesapeake Bay, the Atlantic Ocean, and the mountains of Western Maryland so that future generations can enjoy these wonders and so that Maryland can continue to benefit economically from tourism revenue. We must strike the proper balance between development, land preservation, and agricultural usage. Expanding access to open spaces and forest preservation should be priorities. We must protect our clean waterways, especially the Chesapeake Bay, to support our watermen and the fishing industry.
Preserving Maryland’s environment is both a social and an economic imperative. As Governor, I will strike the proper balance of protecting our environment and driving long-term economic growth so that future generations can enjoy Maryland’s natural wonders.