Chesapeake: The Sierra Club Maryland Chapter Newsletter
 
Chapter Home
 
Chesapeake
Newsletter Home
Past Issues
 

Celebrating Success While Preparing for New Challenges
click for print view

by Ron Henry | 2008

Wow, it happened! Let’s celebrate the election results at the state and national levels. We now have the opportunity to set in place, put into motion, ensure execution, and achieve the environmental objectives that are so sorely needed and long fought for. Congratulations and thanks for the efforts made by every MD Chapter Sierran, volunteers and staff, in achieving the election results that provided this opportunity. You have done yourselves proud.

Wow, it happened! Let’s celebrate the election results at the state and national levels. We now have the opportunity to set in place, put into motion, ensure execution, and achieve the environmental objectives that are so sorely needed and long fought for. Congratulations and thanks for the efforts made by every MD Chapter Sierran, volunteers and staff, in achieving the election results that provided this opportunity. You have done yourselves proud.

Special thanks are due Jan Graham, our recent past Legislative Chair and long-time Eastern Shore Group activist. Jan’s insight into the potential viability of a local Eastern Shoreman as the candidate for 1st Congressional District, all her ensuing efforts in getting that campaign off to a fine running start, and her proactivity throughout are especially noteworthy. Thank you, Jan.

Special thanks are also due the “Anonymous Donor” for providing matching funds for that campaign, enabling the use of intensely focused staff time to increase our membership’s involvement. Special thanks are also due Betsy Johnson, our Chapter Political Chair, for shepherding the whole effort. And very special thanks to all our Groups’ Political Committees and Chairs, who were so wonderfully integral in making this very positive election outcome a reality.

We now must move forward with our issue campaigns in this time of scarce resources, and achieve our objectives by using our resources as wisely as possible. To do so will entail having all Sierrans bring to the 2009 issue campaigns all of the passion that you so admirably displayed during the election process. We need to maintain that level of proactivity to ensure passage of the necessary legislation to achieve the goals of our campaigns. We can do it.

The Chapter Ex Com and planning staff have determined our 2009 issue campaigns and priorities. We also have been working diligently with the Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE), a coalition of State environmental groups, to determine our mutual legislative priorities for the 2009 state legislative session. One of those CCE legislative efforts is also a high priority for our Chapter – transportation issues and, specifically, de-funding the Intercounty Connector (ICC). Our sense is that 2009 is the year to accomplish this goal. With a predicted continued downturn in the economy and a myriad of funding cuts at the federal and state levels, it should be obvious that the ICC is the very first item that should be de-funded. Scarce resources must be used wisely for the benefit of all.

Since de-funding the ICC is our high priority and it is, has been, and will be controversial, it is most appropriate for Sierrans to completely understand the rationale for our opposition to this project. We will be asked, so let’s be prepared. Most, if not all, Sierrans know why we have worked long and hard to defeat the ill-considered ICC. Even at first blush, it is apparent that the damage to our environment from its construction alone is sufficiently severe to merit our opposition. But the real damage will come from increased sprawl development that the ICC will encourage, and the resulting increase in vehicle miles traveled will produce commensurate increases in pollution and greenhouse gases. Those factors alone are ample cause for Sierrans to continue a campaign to de-fund the ICC. Maryland’s fiscal crisis this year amplifies this cause. It is totally incongruous for the governor and many General Assembly members to tout their “greenness,” when the state proposes to cut funds for many needed public transit projects, yet protects funding for the ICC, a bloated project that is expected to explode well beyond budget. The campaign to de-fund the ICC must continue for the sake of our state and future.

Many will react by saying “the ICC is only a project,” but hidden behind that statement is a question that needs to be truthfully answered: Is this one project only an exception to the State’s otherwise admirable transportation policies, based on the principles of “smart growth” and full consideration of the challenges of climate change? Or, is the ICC the proverbial canary in the coal mine warning us that, contrary to all the rhetoric, our government intends to meet the challenges of the 21st century using the misguided and discredited transportation and development policies of the past century?

Decisions loom on the horizon concerning the Cross County Connector (CCC) in southern Prince George’s and Charles counties. In return for massive damage to the most important and vital wetland habitat remaining on the Chesapeake Bay’s western shore, this “son of the ICC” offers only more sprawl, more pollution, more dependence on automobiles, and another step backwards in meeting the challenge of climate change. Another transportation proposal of concern is the proposed expansion of I-95 to 8 lanes wide north into Harford County and south into Howard County. One only needs to look at the Los Angeles basin to observe the terrible negative outcome of the highway and developer lobby’s “pave, baby, pave” strategy— gridlock and pollution.

So, the ICC could be just one project; it could be just one exception. However, the ICC plus the CCC plus the I-95 major expansions could become a “policy” of “pavement first.” Combined with cuts to public transit, this would mean that Maryland’s real response to the challenges of climate change and a dying Bay would be realized as more sprawl, more pollution, more of the same.

We Sierrans are defined by our active and informed membership. We rose to the challenges of the 2008 election year and played a vital role in ensuring that our 1st District will be represented by a person who supports, rather than opposes, environmental protection. We also made a real difference by canvassing in other states to ensure a presidency that will allow us the opportunity to achieve our environmental goals. We have much of which to be proud. In 2009 this planet called Earth and our future generations need us to continue to rise to the challenges by being proactive through citizen action to ensure our state legislature enacts a Global Warming Solutions Act, greatly strengthens our “smart growth” legislation, protects our environmental budgets, and de-funds the ICC.

 Let’s get going. We can do it!  

 

Ron Henry is the chair of the Maryland Chapter.

> 2008 Table of Contents

   
   

Up to Top