By Cathy Allen, Special to the AFRO

Maryland elected officials might be living in a secret world, like the mythical world of Wakanda; where the air and the waters are crystal-clear and clean, foods are natural and free from harmful pesticides and genetic alterations and where plant life is protected.

That’s not the case here in Maryland.

Cathy Allen

I attended the 2018 Maryland Environmental Recap Summit at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation Headquarters in late April.  I was in the company of environmental leaders and organizations, gathered for a strategy summit to better understand why many of the environmental bills presented to the House and Senate did not get much-needed attention from either chamber.

Many delegates and senators would not give us the time of day or comment on Community Healthy Act bills, that directly affects Maryland air quality, water and natural resources or bills that required environmental transparency from the Public Service Commission.

Bills such as these spotlighted here could prevent tragedies like Flint, Michigan from happening in Baltimore.

Pesticides Use of Chlorpyrifos in Maryland Agriculture (HB116/SB500) This bill would have banned chlorpyrifos in the state for agriculture use. Chlorpyrifos is already banned from residential use. The toxic nerve agent pesticide has been proven to cause brain damage in children and is known to harm the environment and wildlife. This bill, had life saving measures and health prevention written all over it, was withdrawn by its sponsors. Sponsored by: Delegate Stein and Senator Nathan-Pulliam

Public Service Commission (PSC) Reform & Application for Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity – Public Notice and Hearing (HB0715) This bill was a community priority and would have required PSC to consider the health impact of proposed natural gas infrastructure development projects and the second bill would have improved transparency and communications between communities and PSC. Both bills were voted down in the House Economic Matters Committee. Sponsored by: Delegate R. Lewis

Community Healthy Air Act (HB0026/SB0133) This bill would have required the Maryland Department of Environment to conduct a onetime study that identifies air pollutants emitted by large animal feeding operations, such as chicken and dairy farms, and assesses any potential pubic health risks. Sponsored by: Delegate R. Lewis/Senator Madaleno

Forest Conservation – Technical Study and Programmatic Review (HB0766/SB0610) This bill would have the potential of being Maryland’s best tool for protecting Maryland forests. It was aimed at improving and updating current law; such as developers removing acres of forest for new construction and not paying enough taxes to replace the planting of trees. Currently, tax payers are picking up most of the cost in replacing those trees. Sponsored by: Delegate Healey/Senator Young

If you are shaking your head, then its time for you to contact your elected officials’ and make some noise.

Cathy Allen is an award-winning urban environmentalist, the co-creator of G.R.A.S.S. (Growing Resources After Sowing Seed) as well as chair of the “Grow-It Eat It” campaign. G.R.A.S.S. is an environmental entrepreneurial nonprofit program based on the fundamentals of gardening, agriculture and ecology. In conjunction with Baltimore City Public Schools, Allen’s campaign has planted over a half-million trees on the lawns of Baltimore City public schools.