Referendum on Chesapeake Renewal?
In this issue we bring you a commentary by Gov. Robert Ehrlich, hopefully the first from our major November office-seekers describing their commitment to Chesapeake Bay.
The governor’s piece trumpets his leadership in helping to engineer Maryland’s new Flush Tax, one of the most significant pro-Chesapeake Bay initiatives in recent years.
Ehrlich also notes that he has signed Clean Air legislation and worked to reform land preservation policies in Maryland.
There is, of course, another side to the coin as far as the governor’s environmental stewardship.
Rather than installing Bay advocates in key positions, Ehrlich chose some officials widely regarded as hostile to environmental protection.
Under Ehrlich, Maryland’s national leadership in Smart Growth priorities lapsed. Open-space land protection all but stopped for a period, and some of the governor’s appointees even discussed selling off some of Maryland’s most fragile lands.
Looking at records in office and campaign platforms is how candidates can be compared, and we intend to do more of it in coming weeks.
We’re eager for a more thorough airing of Democratic challenger Martin O’Malley’s proposed BayStat programs which, among other things, would return the words Smart Growth to Maryland governance and award open-space grants to communities that effectively manage growth and conserve open space.
Since Ehrlich took office, there has been a dramatic evolution in thinking regarding the health of Chesapeake Bay. Many who pay close attention have become persuaded that state and federal restoration strategies have failed to keep pace with the Bay’s deterioration.
Courageous growth management is needed to stem the pressures people put on the Bay, just as an influx of new spending will be required to stop the spread of oxygen-deprived dead zones.
That’s one of the reasons we applauded the governor’s Flush Tax efforts, which eventually will clean up 66 of the worst sewage treatment plants in Maryland.
Ehrlich tells us in his commentary that he intends to rebuild every sewage treatment plant, progress Marylanders should welcome. He also promises to help contain sprawl and to “effectively plan for growth in the Bay watershed.”
He doesn’t use the words growth management or tell us how he would proceed on an issue so vital. But if and when the governor has some worthy ideas, we’ll give him the space to tell you about them.