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Ben Cardin Will Bring an Environmental Voice to the U.S. Senate
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by Laura O’Callaghan | 2006

From the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to America’s wetlands, Ben Cardin, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and candidate for U.S. Senate, has fought doggedly to protect and improve the environment.

Ask which legislation means the most to him, however, and he answers, “From my work in the state legislature to enact the original Chesapeake Bay Agreement, to my role in Congress building on the federal partnership in the Bay program, I am most proud of my efforts to restore the Chesapeake Bay.”

He adds that, while the Bay is not as healthy as “anyone would like, the intergovernmental and private partnership to ‘Save the Bay’ is a national model for effective environmental progress.”

Cardin believes that it is necessary to reassess the region’s strategy for the Chesapeake Bay Agreement and consider stronger regulatory action to protect the Bay and its watershed. Locally, Cardin has fought to secure millions in federal funds for Chesapeake Bay restoration projects, through the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Act. In 1993, Cardin co-sponsored legislation to consider the Chesapeake Bay under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 (also known as Superfund).

He is a skillful lawmaker whose comprehensive approach to environmental issues reflects his commitment as an environmentalist and his thorough and thoughtful style of working. The Baltimore Sun wrote that “few members of the U.S. House in either party can match his stature as legislative architect and master of bipartisan lawmaking.”


Federal Role in Environmental Protection

As a member of Congress, Cardin has steadfastly fought the Bush administration’s anti-environmental policies. He understands that the federal government has a key role in protecting human health and safeguarding the environment.

He believes that miles-per-gallon (CAFE) standards must be increased, greater use of renewable resources for electricity by 2020 should be mandated, and current federal laws designating critical habitat for the recovery of wildlife species need to be maintained.

He voted to give the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Cabinet-level status with the creation of the Department of the Environment in 1994, and has been fighting to protect its powers ever since. In 1995, he voted against a bill that would have crippled the EPA by curtailing its role in protecting wetlands and regulating air and water standards. In three major votes since 2001, he voiced his support of protecting the agency’s funding.


Energy Self-Sufficiency , Yes; Giveaways to Energy Industry, No

“The United States needs to become energy self sufficient,” says Cardin, but he is critical of  the Bush administration’s energy plans, which would give billions to oil companies at a time of record profits. He does not think that key environmental protections need to be weakened in order to achieve energy self sufficiency, or that billions in new subsidies should be awarded to private industries for coal and nuclear power.  He maintains that  state and local governments should not be stripped of their authority over the siting of liquefied natural gas terminals.

Cardin believes that greater efforts must be made to support alternative, environment-friendly transportation. He has secured funding for the construction of hiker/biker greenways, including the Jones Falls Trails in Baltimore. He has sought authorization and funding for the Baltimore Regional Rail Plan with the construction of the Red Line.

Some of the other issues that concern Cardin include the Endangered Species Act, holding producers of the gasoline additive MTBE liable for groundwater contamination, and promoting energy efficiency.


International Cooperation

Cardin understands that international cooperation is essential to achieve many of the challenging environmental issues facing the world. Cardin opposed Bush’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Kyoto Agreement on global warming.

An expert on taxes and trade, the 5-term Representative has fought to ensure that all trade agreements have provision for strong labor and environmental protection.


Environmental Groups Endorse Cardin

Environmental groups from the Sierra Club to the American Wilderness Coalition have endorsed Cardin or given him outstanding ratings. In 2004 and 2005, the American Wilderness Coalition and Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund gave Rep. Cardin a 100% rating for “supporting their interests.” The League of Conservation Voters rated him 100% in 2004 and 94% in 2005. The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance rated Cardin 100% on the votes they considered “most important” in 2004.

Endorsements from local papers focus on his legislative skills and expertise in other areas such as health care, Iraq, Social Security, and tax reform.

The Baltimore Jewish Times writes that he “has a well-earned reputation as one of the most sober, well-balanced and knowledgeable members of Congress.”

The Washington Post’s endorsement states: “Our choice is Mr. Cardin, whose mastery of public policy, pragmatic bipartisanship and even-keeled determination have made him a superb lawmaker.”


Competence and Commitment

A common complaint with politics as usual is that candidates and officeholders are so caught up with partisan wrangling and point-scoring that they have failed to address everyday issues of pressing concern. The antidote is electing lawmakers such as Mr. Cardin, whose proven competence, integrity and depth have been his trademarks in public service.

A third-generation Marylander, Cardin and his wife of 41 years, Myrna, grew up in the Baltimore’s Forest Park neighborhood. They have a daughter, a son-in-law, and two young granddaughters.

Cardin graduated from the University of Maryland Law School, and at age 23 was elected to the Maryland House of Delegates. When he was 36, he became one of Maryland’s youngest Speakers of the House.

Elected to the House of Representatives in 1986 and currently Senior Democratic Whip, Cardin has championed environmental issues throughout his political career. Having a U.S. Senator from Maryland with Cardin’s “proven competence, integrity and depth,” as The Washington Post states, would be a valuable asset to meet the demanding environmental challenges our country faces.



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