As six year-old Tal Kosten stood before the audience, his mother Maranda described the difficulty of explaining air pollution to her children after a trip to the pool was cancelled during a code orange air quality alert three weeks ago. How, Maranda posed, does a parent protect their child when the very air they breathe is harmful? Parents can protect against the sun with sunscreen, but there is no way to filter the air other than forcing children to stay inside. At this point, Tal chose to speak, saying that  “it's no fair that kids around Baltimore cannot go outside in code orange,” and asking for the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) to help him and other children like him in the state.  
 
Tal and his mother were two of many in a diverse array of doctors, environmental advocates, public  interest groups, and concerned citizens advocating for stricter NOx regulations at an MDE hearing on June 29. David Smedick, speaking on behalf of the Sierra Club, explained how the proposed NOx regulations are drastically less protective of public health than  regulations agreed upon and adopted by the MDE in January of this year, but unceremoniously yanked by Governor Larry Hogan mere hours after his inauguration. The newly proposed regulations require coal plants to run existing pollution controls, but omit the critical health-protective requirements for modern pollution-cutting technology included in the original regulations. The state has said that more time and discussions are needed on the issue. However, David pointed out that the 15-month stakeholder process to develop the previously adopted regulations exhaustively considered all options, and that to repeat the processes would be duplicative and wasteful. “Rather than duplicate the robust, resource-intensive process that already resulted in MDE’s adoption of the original NOx regulation,” David noted, the Department should implement the existing regulation to comply with the Department’s statements on prioritizing human health. 

 
Baltimore, MD – At a hearing in front of the Maryland Department of Environment (MDE) today, citizen activists and concerned groups urged the Department to implement strong smog protections originally adopted in January 2015. Rather than implementing those protections, the Hogan Administration has proposed an inadequate, short term, and dramatically weakened half-measure to Maryland’s air pollution crisis. In fact, not a single person testified in support of these rules at the hearing.

Public Health Groups Team up for Statewide TV Ads on Hogan’s Controversial Clean Air Actions
April Cable Ads Call on Gov. to Unblock Clean Air Protections

BALTIMORE, MD – Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility and Sierra Club have joined together on a new statewide advertising campaign calling on Governor Larry Hogan to swiftly release clean air protections that had been finalized by Maryland’s Department of the Environment but held up by Hogan’s administration. Yesterday, the administration missed its previously announced end of March deadline for identifying a plan to move these critical protections forward.

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Baltimore City, Prince George’s and Montgomery County Councils Unite in Call for Clean Air Action
Local Governments Tell Hogan its Time to Unblock Key Protections
 

BALTIMORE, MD – The Baltimore City Council joined the Prince George’s and Montgomery County Councils this week by passing a resolution supporting clean air action for Maryland, specifically by cleaning up the state’s coal plants. The unanimous vote by the city council comes in response to controversial actions by Gov. Hogan to block clean air protections that had been finalized by the Maryland Department of the Environment.

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Update 3/30 @ 5pm: Since this post was originally published, three major stakeholders have announced that they will be terminating their contracts with Energy Answers to purchase electricity from the proposed incinerator in Curtis Bay. Baltimore City, Baltimore City Public Schools, and Baltimore County Public Schools initiated a domino effect that will likely drive the other 19 stakeholders to back out of the contract. Stay tuned for more updates on our campaign to bring fair development to Curtis Bay!


People living in the South Baltimore community of Curtis Bay are no strangers to heavy industrialization and failed development, but an organization called Free Your Voice--a student-led human rights committee of United Workers--is organizing to bring fair development to Curtis Bay instead. Join Free Your Voice in celebrating recent victories and building their movment at The Concert for Fair Development on April 25th at 3pm in Curtis Bay!

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