As expected, Gov. Larry Hogan today joined governors of other Chesapeake Bay region states in signing a resolution that calls on the president and federal lawmakers not to defund the 37-year-old Chesapeake Bay Program.
Hogan, leaders from Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, the District of Columbia, the Chesapeake Bay Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency signed the resolution at this year’s Chesapeake Executive Council meeting in Annapolis. The body meets each year to set the direction for the Chesapeake Bay Program, a state-federal partnership crafted to revive the country’s largest estuary.
“It will take all of the bay jurisdictions and our federal partners working together to continue our progress,” Hogan said in a statement, in which he also referred to the bay as “Maryland’s most precious natural asset.”
The council met today as a protest carried forth outside the State House urging Hogan to be more outspoken against President Trump’s environmental agenda. Trump has proposed eliminating the $73 million budget for the interagency partnership that has helped restore the Chesapeake Bay to its best condition in decades. He also pledged to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement, a 195-country pact that the Obama administration helped design to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.
Legislators and activists called on Hogan to join 10 other governors who’ve signed their states on as members of the United States Climate Alliance, which promises to uphold the Paris Agreement.
“You cannot protect the Bay without acting to stop the worst of climate change,” Mitch Jones, senior policy advisor for Food and Water Watch Maryland, said in a statement. “It’s not enough to say Governor Hogan wouldn’t have pulled out of Paris; Governor Hogan needs to lead Maryland to an immediate and just transition to 100 percent clean, renewable energy now, not tomorrow.”
Inside the State House, Hogan was appointed chair of the Chesapeake Executive Council. He replaces Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who’s occupied the position since the start of 2015.
Hogan took a couple extra actions to promote the bay’s health as the council’s new leader. The first was to distribute more than $21.5 million in awards to 18 watershed-protecting organizations around the state. The money comes from the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund, a 10-year-old pool administered by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
He also established an outdoor education initiative called Project Green Classrooms, which will promote experiential learning and environmental education for Maryland youth. He created it by signing an executive order. The education program is “an expansion and extension of a previous state program,” according to a release from the DNR.
Under public pressure to be more outspoken against the Trump administration’s climate agenda, Gov. Hogan’s office has defended his record. A spokeswoman touted his record in an email yesterday, including his signing of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act, which set a 40 percent reduction target for greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, and the state’s existing memberships in regional pacts to fight climate change.
As for Hogan’s lacking public decries of Trump’s proposed budget? “I’m sure you know that Congress sets the budget, not the executive branch,” she said.
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