view counter

Gov. Hogan: Champion of the Chesapeake

With the title comes accountability

photo from https://www.facebook.com/larryhogan

As Gov. Larry Hogan revs up his reelection machine, he is burnishing his credentials. In the two weeks since Bay Weekly’s Father’s Day interview in his office, he’s been buddying up with fellow Republicans, “delivering on his promise to transform transit in Baltimore” and carefully styling himself an environmental, and particularly a Chesapeake, champion.
    Hogan’s well-timed ascension to leadership of the Chesapeake Executive Council  — the chairmanship rotates among the Council members, heads of the EPA Bay Program states — puts him in a catbird seat.
    The Executive Council coordinates the collaborative Bay restoration efforts of Delaware, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, as well as Maryland. As chair, Hogan extends his visibility throughout the region.
    In taking on that role, he promised to “remain passionately committed to this cause.”
    At home in Maryland, he says he has honored that commitment by funding, executive order, regulation and legislation.
    In funding, he calls himself the first governor in Maryland history to fully fund the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund. “We have invested the most ever — nearly $145 million — 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,” he said.
    In Program Open Space, he makes another case for following talk with money. “After years of raiding by the previous administration,” he says, “the Hogan administration has also fully funded the state’s premier land conservation and recreation program.”
    By executive order, Hogan this month created Project Green Classrooms, which he calls “innovative ways to engage our youth … by promoting outdoor experiential activities and environmental education through Maryland’s schools, communities and public lands.”    
    In legislation, this year he proposed a 2017 Environmental Package including increased dollar and technology incentives for electric vehicles. He also signed The Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act, requiring Maryland to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent from 2006 levels by 2030.
    A year earlier, he gave coal-fueled power plants choices of ways to achieve mandatory reduction of their emission of smog-forming gasses in summer.
    Above all, Hogan seems proudest about negotiating a compromise phosphorous management solution. “We brought all the stakeholders together — farmers, community leaders, the poultry industry and environmental groups — in what has been called the most significant step to clean up the Bay in a generation,” he says.
    The governor told me in our Bay Weekly conversation that he uses that achievement as a model in working with watermen, who are so important to Maryland’s economy, history and culture that they appear together with farmers on our state seal.
    In planning for oyster restoration, “watermen have been ignored, demonized,” he said. “We don’t want to put watermen out of business. We want to do like we did with farmers. We want to bring everybody together and say watermen need to be a part of the solution as we work to help the business and industry while working together to restore oyster populations.”
    One step, watermen have told him, is to open sanctuaries to rotational harvesting.
    “Sanctuaries are just getting covered over with silt. There’s so much sediment coming down, mostly from the Susquehanna River and Conowingo Dam, that some of these sanctuaries no longer function and oysters are dying. It’s like harvesting a crop. They need to get in there and be harvested. There’s no question that the science works.”
    You might differ with that — and scientists have told me they do — just as you might with any of Hogan’s claims. You might, like Maryland Democrats from the rank and file to Congress, also wonder about his apparent indifference to the U.S. Climate Alliance of states in support of the standards set by the Paris Climate Accord repudiated by the president.
    If so, Hogan seems to have made himself accountable. By identifying himself as a champion of the Chesapeake, he’s asking, so it would seem, that advocates and researchers hold him to it.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher
email editor@bayweekly.com, www.sandraolivettimartin.com