Monday, July 15, 2013

2013 ENVIRONMENTAL RANKINGS: League of Conservation Voters Rates MD Senators & Delegates // PLUS: Fracking Update

UPDATE: Maryland Juice recently noticed a fascinating map on the LCV website showing the geographic distribution of environmentalist legislators in the Free State (Hat tip: Maryland Reporter). The green dots on the image below show lawmakers with 100% environmental ratings, while the red dots represent officials with a 0% rating:

Maryland environmental advocacy organization the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) just released its 2013 ratings for State Senators & Delegates. They rated Annapolis officials on a few highlighted environmental bills (a perfect score = 100%). Below you can see how LCV rated your state legislators on environmental issues, and we also highlight how Montgomery lawmakers and statewide candidates fared. The press release that accompanies the scorecard notes:
MARYLAND LCV: “This year’s environmental scorecard lets Marylanders know which legislators took action to protect future generations from the ravages of climate change, the health impacts of pesticides, and pollution from industrial agriculture,” said Maryland LCV Board Chair, Tony Caligiuri. “Maryland LCV’s scorecard lets citizens know which Senators and Delegates vote for what is politically convenient and who are the real environmental champions.”

“Marylanders should thank our visionary legislators who voted for Offshore Wind Energy Bill and the Transportation Funding bill to move our state’s economy into the future,” said Maryland LCV’s Executive Director Karla Raettig. “Similarly, if they are concerned about the historic impacts of extreme weather, they should hold legislators accountable who didn’t vote to take several other opportunities to curb climate change. Why should just one bold clean energy bill pass in a session? We shouldn’t have an environmental quota.”

Note that the average rating for Democrats in 2013 was 70%, while the average for Republicans was 13%. Senate President Mike Miller was rated 60% and House Speaker Mike Busch was rated 75%. The highest rated Republicans were Senator Allan Kittleman of District 9 with 33% and Delegate Cathy Vitale of District 33B with 60%. After our summary lists, we also post an update on fracking, as well as the full LCV ratings for all State Senators and Delegates.

Here is how a few elected officials seeking higher office in 2014 fared:
  • Senator Allan Kittleman - Republican for Howard County Executive: 33%
  • Senator Brian Frosh - Democrat for Attorney General: 100%
  • Delegate Aisha Braveboy - Democrat for Attorney General: 57%
  • Delegate Jon Cardin - Democrat for Attorney General: 100%
  • Delegate Bill Frick - Democrat for Attorney General: 100%
  • Delegate Heather Mizeur - Democrat for Governor: 100%
  • Delegate John Olszewski - Democrat for D6 State Senate: 71%
  • Delegate Guy Guzzone - Democrat for D13 State Senate: 75%
  • Delegate Brian Feldman - Democrat for D15 State Senate: 86%
  • Delegate Susan Lee - Democrat for D16 State Senate: 100%
  • Delegate Jim Gilchrist - Democrat for D17 State Senate: 86%
  • Delegate Luiz Simmons - Democrat for D17 State Senate: 100%

* Note: Some of these candidates have not yet announced for these offices, but we have listed them as candidates for offices they are rumored to be considering.

Montgomery County's State Senators (from highest to lowest):
  • Senator Karen Montgomery (D14): 100%
  • Senator Brian Frosh (D16): 100%
  • Senator Rich Madaleno (D18): 100%
  • Senator Roger Manno (D19): 100%
  • Senator Jamie Raskin (D20): 100%
  • Senator Nancy King (D39): 100%
----------------------------- Senators Under 100% ----------------------------------------
  • Senator Jennie Forehand (D17): 80%
  • Senator Rob Garagiola (D15): 67%

Montgomery County's Delegates (from highest to lowest):
  • Delegate Kathleen Dumais (D15): 100%
  • Delegate Aruna Miller (D15): 100%
  • Delegate Bill Frick (D16): 100%
  • Delegate Ariana Kelly (D16): 100%
  • Delegate Susan Lee (D16): 100%
  • Delegate Luiz Simmons (D17): 100%
  • Delegate Al Carr (D18): 100%
  • Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez (D18): 100%
  • Delegate Jeff Waldstreicher (D18): 100%
  • Delegate Sam Arora (D19): 100%
  • Delegate Bonnie Cullison (D19): 100%
  • Delegate Ben Kramer (D19): 100%
  • Delegate Tom Hucker (D20): 100%
  • Delegate Heather Mizeur (D20): 100%
  • Delegate Kirill Reznik (D39): 100%
  • Delegate Shane Robinson (D39): 100% 
----------------------------- Delegates Under 100% ----------------------------------------
  • Delegate Charles Barkley (D39): 86%
  • Delegate Jim Gilchrist (D17): 86%
  • Delegate Brian Feldman (D15): 86%
  • Delegate Kumar Barve (D17): 80%
  • Delegate Sheila Hixson (D20): 80%
  • Delegate Anne Kaiser (D14): 80%
  • Delegate Eric Luedtke (D14): 80%
  • Delegate Craig Zucker (D14): 75%

FRACKING UPDATE: NEW HBO DOCUMENTARY HIGHLIGHTS REP. ANDY HARRIS - Since we are on the topic of environmental issues in Maryland, we thought this would be a good time to provide a quick update on the issue of hydraulic fracturing (aka "fracking"). There has been much attention drawn to potential groundwater contamination, flammable water supplies, earthquakes and more -- that many attribute to fracking. As a result, plans to allow fracking in Maryland have proved controversial, and GOP Congressman Andy Harris was recently highlighted for his support of the practice in a new HBO documentary Gasland 2 (trailer below):

GUEST COMMENTARY ON FRACKING FROM PAUL ROBERTS - Maryland Juice also received some guest commentary about fracking in Maryland from Paul Roberts, a member of Governor O'Malley's commission on fracking and a co-owner of a Garrett County winery. Roberts is urging the Free State to adopt a cap on drilling activity. Check out Paul Roberts' commentary on fracking below:
PAUL ROBERTS: The state is at a critical juncture in its three-year consideration of whether shale gas drilling should be permitted in Garrett and Allegany counties in western Maryland. Gov. Martin O'Malley established a state commission with an August 2014 deadline for a final report, and populated it with notables such as Del. Heather Mizeur, who has worked tirelessly with non-governmental associations and allies in western Maryland on the issue. I am among them, serving as well on the Governor's commission, as the "Citizen Representative."

"Fracking" has been linked to water contamination in western states, and more recently in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The work of New York film-maker Josh Fox focused national attention, and his Gasland 2 premiered July 8. Gasland 2: A film by Josh Fox - NOW on HBO And here is an article and a short film by a Baltimore woman in which a gas company executive admits on tape to destroying one family's water supply.

Many predict fracking will be among the top domestic issues during the 2016 presidential race, and the states which have not rushed into allowing production — Maryland and New York — are run by governors likely to end up as primary opponents. Activist organizations in New York have developed a more aggressive "ban" approach, while in Maryland, largely behind the leadership of two Takoma Park residents — Mizeur and Mike Tidwell of Chesapeake Climate Action Network — activists have tried to steer the debate, for the moment, toward erecting strong protections, should fracking be permitted.

Earlier this month, the state released its proposed "Best Management Practices," from which a long-awaited modernization of regulations will occur. Public comments on the draft report can be submitted by email to

A capacity crowd turned out on July 8 in Garrett County to offer comments and criticisms. And, at the urging of activists, a second hearing will be held in the Baltimore area: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 at 2 pm at the Maryland Department of the Environment, 1800 Washington Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21230. (Persons attending should park in the Blue Lot.)

The state's draft fracking report is a weighty, technical document. Among the principal concerns raised so far are that drilling would be allowed within 1,000 feet of a private water well, while the proposed setback from a municipal supply is 2,000 feet. Regulators explain that's because so many more people depend on a single municipal supply, but this logic was met with cat-calls in Garrett County, since most rural residents there use private water wells. They called for an equal buffer. Drilling would also be allowed within 300 feet of many of the region's pristine mountain streams; this provision shocks wilderness and white-water enthusiasts.

As a member of the Governor's Commission, I am urging the state to adopt a cap on drilling activity county-wide, though it appears that changes in county zoning laws would also be needed. Citing evidence produced by experts who prepared the study on which the draft BMP report is based, I have asked the state to explore a 2-percent maximum on disturbed acreage. "Without limits," I told my fellow Commissioners in June, "the careful planning the state wisely decided to require only ensures a methodical pace to the industrialization process of our mostly forested, rural area."


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