Volume 15, Issue 4 ~ January 25 - January 31, 2007


Global Warming and Putting the Heat on Allstate

For coming to grips with climate change, this is the biggest week in American history.

Some of the nation’s major corporations came together with environmental advocates in Washington on Monday to say yes, we may well be on the verge of crisis.

President George W. Bush, in his State of the Union message on Tuesday, acknowledged in his strongest terms to date how a warming planet threatens us.

The new Congress identified climate change as a top priority, promising early action that could begin to bring the United States in line with European nations and others with the foresight to take action.

Those of us in Anne Arundel and Calvert counties are especially vulnerable given our proximity to Chesapeake Bay and the certainty of rising waters. But all of us could pay a price with predictions of more hurricanes and turbulent weather as a result of rising ocean temperatures.

Some of us are victims already with Allstate’s decision to stop writing new homeowner’s insurance in coastal areas, including Anne Arundel and Calvert. The huge insurer says it worries about hurricanes and wild weather from climate change.

The decision is a dangerous one for all of us. If allowed to proceed, Allstate will drive up insurance rates in our region and set a precedent that allows other industries to duck their responsibilities for contributing to the common good.

We were Illinoisans back in the 1960s when folks in Chicago coined a term for this sort of discriminatory business practice. It’s called redlining, and it refers to the practice of insurance companies, banks and even supermarkets using the map to deny service or to gouge people, usually because of race.

Now we in Chesapeake Country, because we live close to the water, are being redlined by a company that made $1.5 billion in 2005 — even with payoffs from the Hurricane Katrina disaster along the Gulf.

We need to encourage the General Assembly to put Allstate on the hot seat and to urge the Maryland Insurance Administration under Gov. Martin O’Malley to swiftly explore options so that Allstate is not permitted to simply inform us of their plan to discriminate.

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