Thursday, April 08, 2010

Environmentalist Catfight

Maryland’s environmentalists say they have gotten “the shaft” this year in Annapolis. That recent spate of misfortune, and especially an extremely controversial bill on stormwater requirements, has set off some catfighting among friends. And we have a dog’s-eye view of the scratching and hissing below!

The immediate issue concerns HB 1125, a bill that in its original form would have weakened stormwater restrictions passed in 2007 at the behest of developers who did not want to bear increased costs. But developers and a few environmental group representatives negotiated a compromise that instead grandfathered existing projects out of the new rules. The bill, now amended to include the compromise, passed the House of Delegates but was still opposed by some environmentalists as well as Senator Paul Pinsky (D-22). It was eventually approved by a joint panel of state legislators on Tuesday and will take effect.

The grandfathering provisions have split Maryland’s environmentalist groups. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation opposed the original bill but supports the compromise. The Maryland League of Conservation Voters also opposed the original bill but remained neutral on the compromise. Environment Maryland characterizes the compromise as a legislative “loss.”

All of this provoked a hissing, clawing spat that spread over environmentalist listservs and made its way to this blog. The pugilistic pussycats are Laura Moore, a former President of the Graduate Student Government at the University of Maryland and a current staffer of Prince George’s County Council Member Tom Dernoga, and Doug Siglin, Federal Affairs Director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, which helped to negotiate the grandfathering compromise. Caught by a few claw swipes was none other than Delegate Maggie McIntosh (D-43), the Chair of the House Environmental Matters Committee and a compromise supporter.

Meeooww #1:

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Laura Moore
Date: Tue, Mar 30, 2010 at 5:43 PM
Subject: How our delegates voted on weakening Bay protections


I've posted on the "Dirty Water Bill" aka HB 1125 before, but wanted to post an update. Due in part to some deliberate misinformation on the part of elected officials and a few "environmental" groups, this bill passed the House 127-13 on Friday. Anne Healey demonstrated some backbone and voted against this terrible bill. I cannot say the same for Justin Ross or Tawanna Gaines, who voted in favor of more Bay pollution. That was very disappointing. Senator Paul Pinsky has been absolutely heroic in working to kill or at least lessen the impact of this bill, and he's up against a lot of pressure. Some background:

In 2007, the state legislature passed the Stormwater Management Act (2007SWMA), which tightened standards on runoff from developments, with regulations set to be enacted in 2010. Paved areas speed up the flow of runoff into streams and waterways, causing flooding and causing scouring and erosion of stream banks (the "fire hose effect"). If runoff flows off pavement unchecked, it carries with it pollutants into waterways and ultimately into the Chesapeake Bay. Pollution from runoff is a large part of why there are so many dead zones in the Bay.

Despite the fact that developers have had three years to adjust to these reasonable standards, they still want exemptions, loopholes, and further grandfathering until 2017. Unfortunately, they have found a welcome audience with some powerful legislators. The House Environmental Matters Committee heard HB 1125 on Wednesday March 24, BUT Chairperson Maggie McIntosh (who wants to be the next Speaker of the House) would not allow non-supporters to testify against the bill. Earlier in the day, former U.S. Senator Joe Tydings, former U.S. Representative Wayne Gilchrest, and former Governor Harry Hughes, all long-time supporters of the Bay, held a press conference denouncing the legislation. They along with 30 representatives of local environmental groups attended the hearing, but were not permitted to testify. Sen. Tydings stood up and asked that they at least be recognized, but Chairperson McIntosh went ballistic and started shrieking, "Last I checked, this was still MY hearing room."

Last week there was a false rumor, "confirmed" by the Speaker's office, that Gilchrest and Hughes had defected and were now supporting the bill. I have had it confirmed repeatedly (including by phone with Senator Tydings yesterday) that this is NOT the case. The three elder statesmen still oppose the bill and any weakening of Bay protections. As recently as yesterday, they were lobbying senators and the governor against the bill. Most environmental groups oppose HB 1125, but a few, including Chesapeake Bay Foundation, agreed to support the legislation. (McIntosh is closely affiliated with CBF and steers money their way.) This provided cover for politicians to vote for the bill.

After working in politics for the past few years, I don't often get surprised by the dirty dealings of politicians, but this one really left me sick to my stomach.

I urge you to spread the word about this. Please take a moment to thank Paul Pinksy for all his hard work: I will forward an email with detailed information on what you can do to help. Feel free to contact me if you would like any further information.

Laura Moore
Meeooww #2:

On Thu, Apr 1, 2010 at 5:37 PM, Doug Siglin wrote:

Colleagues, this email came to my attention today, since I remain on several Anacostia-related distribution lists and continue to try to assist the Anacostia with the federal agencies and in Congress. In the email below, Laura Moore takes serious issue with what CBF, 1000 Friends of Maryland and LCV MD have done regarding HB1125. That's fair game. What is not fair is to assert that Delegate McIntosh "steers money their way." That is utterly false. I asked Ms. Moore privately to let you know that she misunderstood something and mischaracterized this, but, using her anger as a reason, she says she will not. She further says that she will discourage people from supporting CBF, and apparently this is one way she believes that she can do it.

All I can do under the circumstances is to let you know that no one in the General Assembly, including Ms. McIntosh, steers money to CBF. Whatever the reasons are for what happened, this is not one of them, and demeans both Delegate McIntosh and CBF.

I am not involved in the Annapolis issues at all, but it pains me enormously to see people who disagree on policy matters stoop to this level. We're increasingly used to seeing it from fringe elements in the right wing "tea parties"; but I would suggest that we who are all in our own ways trying to help the environment and other progressive causes should be better than that.

Doug Siglin, Federal Affairs Director
Chesapeake Bay Foundation
725 8th Street, SE Washington DC
(202) 544-2232 in DC or (443) 482-2171 in Annapolis
Meeooww #3:

[] On Behalf Of Laura Moore
Sent: Thursday, April 01, 2010 5:49 PM
Cc: Masaya Maeda;;;;;; James Foster
Subject: [AWCAC] Re: [restoretheanacostia] RE: [CCRIC] Fwd: How our delegates voted on weakening Bay protections


You are welcome to say what you like, and I am welcome to disagree with you. As I stated in our personal email exchange of a few moments ago, we disagree on the facts. I do not regret or retract my statement. I believe what I said is common knowledge, and thinking otherwise is pretty naive. Obviously you have vested interest into attempting to embarrass me into submission, but that's just not going to happen. I will never give money to CBF again, or to 1000 Friends of Maryland or Maryland LCV. These three groups have lost a tremendous amount of credibility with many folks, including me. You've done damage, and I only hope we can reverse it.

I stand by my statements.

I am not on all these lists, so please feel free to forward my statement if you like.

Laura Moore
Meeooww #4:

On Thu, Apr 1, 2010 at 6:03 PM, Doug Siglin wrote:

Ms. Moore, I have no interest in embarrassing you into submission. I've never met you as far as I know. I just wanted to correct the record on steering money and deliver a personal plea that we try to keep from demeaning one another. You may not see it this way, but in the big picture, we are most certainly all on the same team.

Doug Siglin, Federal Affairs Director
Chesapeake Bay Foundation
725 8th Street, SE Washington DC
(202) 544-2232 in DC or (443) 482-2171 in Annapolis

From: On Behalf Of Laura Moore
Sent: Thursday, April 01, 2010 6:35 PM
To: Doug Siglin
Cc:; Masaya Maeda;;;;;; James Foster
Subject: Re: [AWCAC] Re: [restoretheanacostia] RE:
[CCRIC] Fwd: How our delegates voted on weakening Bay protections


I agree we shouldn't demean each other or get personal, but you publicly accused me of lying, using my supposed "anger" to lie, and you compared me to a fringe element. I simply stated what is common knowledge about your organization. Some proof below. I am happy to provide more proof if you so desire, this was just what I came up with after a
few minutes of searching.

I realize you are simply trying to defend your organization, but forwarding an email that does not portray CBF in a positive light to many environmental organizations who are now trying to reverse damage that CBF has caused does not seem to be helping anyone, least of all CBF.

As we probably all know, Delegate McIntosh sponsored the bill that created the Save the Bay license plate. Money goes to CB Trust, which gives money to CBF.

From CBF's site:

CB Trust's 2009 report:

I think it's good that we have legislators who are willing to support our organizations, and Delegate McIntosh has at other times been a strong ally of the environment. She is very influential in the environmental community, but that puts us in a position where it's difficult to say no to her when she is not doing the right thing.

But you're right, ultimately we are all on the same team. I know there are hard feelings all around right now, but we'll have to move forward as a team as best we can.

Laura Moore