Environmental group gives high marks to Montgomery lawmakers -- Gazette.Net


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Montgomery County lawmakers received mostly high marks from the Maryland League of Conservation Voters, which released its annual environmental scorecard Monday, and the group is encouraging them to resurrect several “dead” bills in 2014.

The scorecard, which was for the 2013 legislative session, ranked lawmaker support for environmentally conscious bills in committee as well as floor votes on key measures such as offshore wind, stormwater management, studying pesticide use and exempting some agricultural operations from state water quality rules.

Six of the county’s eight senators received scores of 100 percent, as did 16 of its 24 delegates, according to the scorecard.

Only one county lawmaker scored less than 80 percent. Sen. Robert J. Garagiola (D-Dist. 15) of Germantown was given a 67 percent score after voting in favor of the agricultural water-quality exemptions and delaying implementation of a stormwater utility fee by two years.

But Garagiola also sponsored a bill phasing out facilities that burn paper waste for energy from the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, which was praised by the league and was one of the measures upon which other members of the General Assembly were scored. The bill ultimately died in a House committee.

Lawmakers were also praised for supporting legislation that raised money for road and transit projects by increasing the state’s motor fuel tax.

If Marylanders are concerned about the impact of extreme weather, they should hold lawmakers who don’t cast multiple votes to curb climate change accountable, Karla Raettig, the league’s executive director, said in a statement. Lawmakers should be passing more than one major clean energy bill in a session, Raettig said.

Several initiatives backed by Montgomery legislators either died or were heavily amended, and the league says voters should encourage lawmakers to revisit the issues in 2014.

Bills calling for a moratorium or a ban on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for example, were sponsored by lawmakers including Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Dist. 20) of Takoma Park, Del. Shane Robinson (D-Dist. 39) of Montgomery Village and Sen. Karen S. Montgomery (D-Dist. 14) of Brookeville.

The bill that established a workgroup to study pesticide data was a weakened version of a bill from Sen. Roger Manno (D-Dist. 19) of Silver Spring that would have tightened regulations on pesticide use, according to the scorecard.

The league is also calling for lawmakers to revisit a proposal for strengthening stormwater regulations proposed by Del. Alfred C. Carr Jr. (D-Dist. 18) of Kensington; the creation of a fund to incentivize the building of more energy-efficient homes — a measure supported in the House by Mizeur; and a bill sponsored in the Senate by Brian E. Frosh (D-Dist. 16) of Chevy Chase calling for the establishment of a 100 percent returnable deposit for some beverage containers in order to promote recycling.

dleaderman@gazette.net