Air pollution

Air pollution from automobiles, industry and power plants is a major contributor to the nitrogen pollution problem in the Chesapeake Bay. Studies show that 25% of the nutrient pollution in the Chesapeake Bay comes from the air. Air pollution also causes significant public health problems. Specifically, what will you do to reduce air pollution from all sources?

A report last fall calculated that ozone pollution (smog) was responsible for nearly 2,000 emergency room visits and 86,000 asthma attacks in Baltimore City in one summer alone. As the Maryland Department of the Environment cracks down on power plant pollution that contributes to this problem, transportation is becoming the largest contributor to this pollution. Ozone and nitrogen pollution arenít the only negative results from air pollution. Also produced is carbon dioxide, which contributes to global warming and fine particulate matter (soot) that inflames the delicate structures of the lungs when inhaled. Nutrient pollution in the Chesapeake Bay harms marine life and presents potential health risks to those who recreate on the water. With so many compelling reasons to cut down air pollution, it is essential that our elected officials know how much we value clean air now and for future generations.

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Industrial Poultry Farms

Do you support establishing a moratorium on the development of poultry Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) in Maryland, as well as requiring other precautions to protect our air and water?

Chickens in the states of Delaware and Maryland combined produce enough waste to fill 11,560 boxcars annually, which is equivalent to a train with its engine in Washington, D.C. and its caboose in Philadelphia. Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) have created an enormous increase in the concentration and quantity of manure produced at a single site. These large lagoons of manure frequently seep through to contaminate aquifers, run off fertilized fields into streams and lakes, and release toxic wastes into the atmosphere. The result of this is huge stinking manure lagoons up to the size of several football fields. Other states have taken action to decrease the damage done by the large amounts of manure, such as requiring liners on all lagoons to protect aquifers, establishing moratoriums on new CAFOs, groundwater monitoring, requiring substantial distance between lagoons and water sources, lagoon covers, and prior public notification. Marylandís policies regarding CAFOs must be strong enough to protect the public from air and water contamination.

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The billion-dollar Inter County Connector (ICC) has been repeatedly rejected over the years because of the devastating environmental impacts, including forest, wetlands, park lands and stream valley destruction. Do you support legislation to stop the ICC in order to protect these valuable natural resources now and for future generations?

Three times in the past 30 years the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Interior, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and others have refused to permit the billion-dollar Inter County Connector (ICC) because of the overwhelming adverse environmental impacts. In particular, significant amounts of forest, wetlands, park lands and stream valleys would be destroyed both in Montgomery and Prince George's Counties. In addition, the 1997 Draft Environmental Impact Statement also showed that the proposed ICC would not reduce congestion on the Washington Beltway, I-270, or I-95. The ICC is a proposed 18 to 20 mile highway which would cut across Montgomery and Prince George's Counties, connecting I-270 and Rt. 1 between Gaithersburg and Laurel. The ICC forms part of a sprawling Outer Beltway that some public officials and developers envision around the current Capital Beltway. The ICC would cost about $1.1 billion dollars, and rather than reduce congestion, it will create more by encouraging more travel in the area and requiring development of more and busier intersections. New roads mean more cars, which is not the way to decrease traffic. Instead, a transit system between Annapolis and D.C. as well as one between Baltimore and Annapolis should be developed as part of a long-term solution to traffic problems in Maryland.

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Huge numbers of automobiles on Maryland's roads creates tremendous amounts of both traffic and pollution. Do you support increased funding for further development of public transit and other commuter options as an alternative to increased road-building?

The Maryland Department of the Environment has cracked down on power plant pollution, leaving the transportation sector as the largest contributor to the formation of ozone pollution (smog). New roads increase sprawl as well as put more cars on the roads, increasing pollution. To reduce traffic as well as pollution, Maryland needs improved public transit. Rail systems connecting Annapolis to both Baltimore and D.C. would significantly reduce both traffic loads and pollution. High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes on high-traffic commuter paths and incentives for carpooling are other options. As Marylandís population grows, it is essential that the transportation needs of its residents be met with the cleanest and most efficient means possible, which requires exploring alternatives to building new roads.

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© 2000/1, League of Conservation Voters Education Fund