Environmentalists Question Declining Pollution Enforcement in Maryland

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Summary of “Environmentalists Question Declining Pollution Enforcement in Maryland”

By Akemi Parker

Existing environmental enforcement policies and resources may be insufficient to protect citizens says representatives from 11 environmental groups in Maryland. According to a May 7, 2016 news article in the Washington Post, environmentalists have urged the Maryland Department of the Environment to consider prosecuting more polluters after learning that the number of cases the state is referring for criminal investigation has dropped by one-third over the last three years.

Representatives from 11 groups, including the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Blue Water Baltimore and the Maryland League of Conservation Voters state that air pollution referrals decreased by 50 percent, lead poisoning prevention referral declined about 46 per cent and clean water referrals dropped by 27 percent. The environmental agencies have accused the state environmental policing to be “quiescent”, in other words in a dormant or idle state.

“To fully meet the state’s commitment to its neighbors with regard to the Chesapeake Bay, as well as its commitments to the citizens of Maryland to ensure that our air, water, and lands are clean and healthy, we need a full commitment to enforcing the law,” they said in a letter to Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles.

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The letter asks Grumbles to restore more than a decade of funding cuts that have reduced the state’s staff of inspectors, increase, financial penalties for repeat offender polluters and more consistently levy fines on polluters. They also ask for the state to establish a task force “to discuss the methods for identifying and bringing to justice chronic violations of the law.”

Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D) said that although he can’t control which cases are handed up to his office, he “would like to see more law enforcement.”

Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has emphasized a business-friendly, customer-service-oriented approach to environmental regulation in the past.

A state spokeswoman said officials are reviewing the letter.