We, our children and our children’s children are endangered by the many ways in which our air, water and land are being abused. We know that environmental risks are greater than ever and that failure to act will bring economic as well as environmental harm throughout Maryland. But the good news is that we know more about what we can do to combat the risk. Now we need the political will to do it.
Better, balanced environmental policies can bring us not just healthier futures, but a stronger economy, including a wealth of “green” jobs in businesses and local enterprises. Such policies must be an urgent priority. Here are some of the most pressing and promising of them.
Clean air and renewable energy sources
Global warming keeps accelerating and the shift from fossil fuels must accelerate too.
Water contamination threatens our health and quality of life. We must stop the toxic flow of pollutants into the Bay, the Baltimore Harbor and our local rivers and streams. Since we are all a part of the problem, we all need to be a part of the solution. We need to promote programs that educate Marylanders about runoff and encourage strong rainwater management practices.
Nutrition and farm-to-school programs
We need to promote a closer partnership between Maryland farmers and school meal programs. Effective farm-to-school programs benefit local farmers, opening up broader markets to them as well as offering children access to healthy, fresh food produced locally. Also there should be appropriate incentives for urban and organic farming. And we should explore the possibility of developing programs like those in other states that expand opportunities for participants in Food Stamps and other federal food programs to stretch their dollars by buying organic and locally grown foods.
Consumer engagement and government transparency
Too often, environmental laws, regulations and practices are clouded by a lack of transparency on the part of government agencies. Consumer access to basic information – such as who is polluting the environment, how they are doing it, and what is the impact on specific communities – is limited. This lack of information stymies citizen participation in policymaking and enforcement. We should be shining more light on these issues, not hiding information under the cloak of darkness. Environmental issues are a prime example of where stronger Citizen and Neighborhood Participation, a theme of my candidacy, can help to bring about better policies and results.