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Bush and Ehrlich—Two Peas in a Pod
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by Betsy Johnson | 2006

Letter From The Chair

We used to have environmental heroes in the Republican Party. Republican President Teddy Roosevelt saved more land for future generations than all other presidents combined. Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, signed into law the Clean Water Act, and had one of the best overall environmental records in modern day history. Now that’s a legacy! Unfortunately, the current crop of Republicans seems to want to undo all of our progress in the environmental arena. From attacks on our public lands to rollbacks in bedrock environmental law like the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act, we are fighting on all fronts these days just to keep what we’ve already got.

Governor Ehrlich professes to be a moderate Republican and an environmentalist – but research shows that he’s more like Bush on environmental issues than he’s led us to believe. Here are some comparisons:

 

Inviting Foxes into the Henhouse.

President Bush has shown his contempt for preservation of public lands by appointing to posts in the Interior Department, Energy Department, and Environmental Protection Agency former members of the extraction industry.

 

Governor Ehrlich fired many of the most environmentally knowledgeable public employees in the Department of the Environment and Department of Natural Resources and appointed industry-linked people to head both departments.

 

Starving Environmental Protection Efforts.

President Bush’s budget cut the Land, Conservation, Preservation and Infrastructure Improvement Fund by $250 million, cut funding for the Land & Water Conservation Fund, and reduced federal land acquisition funding by $94 million, or 22 percent.

 

Governor Ehrlich appropriated 75 percent of the money from the Program Open Space Fund to balance the budget with no plan to return the money. He also curtailed the Rural Legacy and Green Print programs, key components of our state land preservation programs.

 

Degrading the Environmental Protection Work Force.

President Bush proposed privatizing the jobs of public-land employees, which would remove people with critical expertise from the management of our National Parks and other federal lands.

 

Governor Ehrlich’s Department of Natural Resources hired civilians to replace park rangers who were reassigned to the Natural Resources Police Force. This move was made without public input and severely affects the proper management and operations of our state parks and forests.

 

Escalating Non-Sustainable Growth.

The Bush administration sent Congress a six-year spending plan for transportation that would slash environmental protections, threaten historic sites, and discourage energy-friendly mass transit. The President’s budget allocates four times more money for roads than for mass transit.

 

The Ehrlich Administration has fast-tracked major road projects like Rte. 32 in Howard County and the Inter-County Connector (ICC) in Montgomery County, with very little time for environmental review or public input. Funding for these projects threatens to tie up state transportation money for decades, while critical mass transit projects have been given very little priority (despite the Governor’s rhetoric to the contrary).

 

Selling Public Lands.

President Bush’s budget this year proposes to raise $1 billion over five years by selling off public lands.

 

Governor Ehrlich was caught with his hand in the public-lands cookie jar when he personally endorsed a secret land deal in St. Mary’s County for his good friend, developer Willard Hackerman.

 

Considered together, these actions form a systematic attack on our environment. Right now, Maryland citizens have executives in the state and federal government who are determined to put short-term profit for their supporters ahead of the long term viability of Maryland’s environment and the health of its citizens. The way to change this is to vote for the O’Malley-Brown ticket in November. The Sierra Club’s 17,000 members can make a huge difference!

 

> 2006 Table of Contents

   
   

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