Before this year the average Marylander probably knew little about storm water. Environmentalists used the word. But then, environmentalists do weird things, like pay higher prices for food grown locally.
All that changed April 12. Comedian and Fox News commentator Steven Crowder used the phrase “rain tax” in a Fox Business News segment with anchor Neil Cavuto. They ridiculed Maryland (and its Democratic governor) and specifically utility fees dedicated to reducing polluted runoff.
You have to give it to Fox. They know how to make people sit up and get angry. Critics of the fees in Maryland started using the term “rain tax.” Reporters picked it up in their stories. Suddenly it was in headlines across the state (first in quotes, then without), most recently in Robert O’Brien’s blog in Baltimore Fishbowl, “Nobody Should Like This New Rain Tax, Here’s Why.”
The whole thing reminded me of when my social studies teacher called on a funny kid in class during a lesson on the Louisiana Purchase. His response got us all laughing. Suddenly we were all paying attention. But we didn’t learn much more about the Louisiana Purchase.
In the same way, the “rain tax” hype has made Marylanders generally aware of storm water, but much of the coverage of the topic doesn’t really teach us enough about the problem. While people are still paying attention let me slip in a few facts:
- This type of pollution is the only major source of water pollution increasing in Maryland.
- Rain washes dog waste, litter, fertilizer, and other contaminants straight into local creeks, rivers, the Inner Harbor and the Bay. This polluted soup isn’t treated in most places.