Mission: The Maryland Environmental Justice Legislative Team works together to magnify community voices through the legislative process to address environmental inequities in Maryland.The Environmental Justice Legislative Team welcomes participation from anyone interested in creating a more inclusive and equitable environmental policy landscape. We are comprised of activists and volunteers not affiliated with any organization, and the following policy, environmental, faith, and health organizations, including:
Environmental justice seeks clean and healthy environments for communities that are overburdened by pollution and health hazards, and promotes meaningful community engagement in policy-making.
Environmental Justice Fact Sheets
- Better Notification and Public Health Protections at the Public Service Commission (PSC) to provide a 2-tiered solution to some of the PSC processes that would (1) Increase transparency and notification in the PSC process [HB0715] by creating an accessible, plain language website searchable by county, and (2) Add a layer of protections via rapid health impact assessment to be completed within thirty days of an application to PSC to support residents living near a proposed facility.
- Community Healthy Air Act to [HB26/SB133] require the Maryland Department of the Environment to conduct a study that identifies and monitors air pollutants emitted by large chicken houses. While industrial chicken farms emit harmful air pollutants, we don’t know how much this pollution is affecting the health of neighboring communities or nearby waters, including the Chesapeake Bay.
- Lowering Maryland’s blood lead action level for children [HB0304] We know that the science has proven that there is no safe level of lead exposure and the effects of lead poisoning are irreversible. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention set a reference blood lead level of 5 μg/dL, but Maryland law does not require intervention until children have levels of 10 μg/dL. Our action level should be at the CDC reference level. Of the children aged 0-72 months tested for lead in 2016,1,729 had blood lead levels between 5 µg/dL and 9 µg/dL.
In the 2017 Session we supported:
- Housing and Community Development – Food Deserts – Small Loans (HB 1492) – to provide financial assistance for corner stores looking to upgrade in order to provide fresh, healthy food for neighbors. This bill passed, and is set to improve access to healthy foods in communities soon.
- The Maryland Farms & Families Act (HB 586/SB 278) – to double the purchasing power of food-insecure Maryland residents with limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables. This bill passed, and now needs your support to get state funding. Consider signing this letter to Governor Hogan asking for funding in the 2018 budget.
- Environment – Testing for Lead in Drinking Water – Public and Nonpublic Schools (HB 270) – to provide lead testing in school drinking water. This bill passed and the Maryland Department of the Environment is currently convening a workgroup to advise on implementation.
- Environment – Reduction of Lead Risk in Housing – Blood Lead Level (HB 1625/SB 1195) – to reduce the definition of an elevated blood lead level, so there is earlier intervention from property owners and health departments for lead poisoned children. This bill did not pass, and we hope it will be reintroduced in 2018.
The Environmental Justice Luncheon
During the past two legislative sessions, the Environmental Justice Legislative Team along with Delegate Cheryl Glenn has hosted an annual event to break bread with faith leaders and elected officials, as well as community, health, and environmental advocates to discuss pressing environmental justice or equity issues facing Marylanders.
In 2018, the luncheon provided a forum to discuss air quality issues across Maryland by highlighting the experiences of several communities including the Eastern Shore, Baltimore City, Frederick County and more. Speakers included community health activist, Mrs. Monica Brooks, Ms. Miranda Jones of the Hopkins School of Public Health, Ms. Brooke Harper of the State chapter of the NAACP and MdEHN’s executive director Mrs. Tamara Toles O’Laughlin.
Each speaker touched on the impacts of timely legislation on questions of equity, access, and justice by discussing the burdens borne by their community; framed by questions of who benefits from the status quo and who is missing from the table where decisions are made. The presentations closed on the importance of “capital J” justice by inviting legislators in attendance act in their capacity with community members to address air quality issue and related health disparities.
In 2017, the Environmental Justice luncheon highlighted food deserts. The lunchtime discussion featured speakers from the Legislative Black Caucus, the University of Maryland School of Public Health, Filbert Street Garden, and the Maryland Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities (CEJSC). Hungry Harvest provided rescued produce from grocery stores to highlight the injustice of food deserts: that edible food is thrown out everyday due to minor blemishes.
“The burden is falling most heavily on communities of color or low-income communities and on rural communities. We want to make sure that their voice and their presence is prominent here in Annapolis where the legislative work of our state is being done,” said Vernice Miller-Travis, outgoing chair of the CEJSC.
Proposed reduction of environmental degradation for underserved Marylanders through community engagement.
Required the Department of Environment to conduct a Cumulative Air Impact Analysis under specified circumstances in accordance with specified requirement.
Executive Branch History – Environmental Justice in Maryland
- 2001 – Governor Glendening signs Executive Order establishing the CEJSC
- 2010 – Sheriff Road pilot project occurred as a facilitated community outreach effort undertaken by the Maryland Department of the Environment
- 2014 – Cumulative Impacts Workgroup
Resources – Environmental Justice in Maryland
- The Metropolitan Washington Air Quality Committee and the Climate, Energy, and Environment Policy Committee of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) – Released a vital Environmental Justice Toolkit (EJ Toolkit) providing a regional lens on this important issues.
The EJ Toolkit was developed to help address issues of equity, access to decision makers, and meaningful engagement of the public, when actions impact human health and the environment. These decisions include, but are not limited to, permitting, facility siting, transportation, and other measures that impact the quality of the air and affect the health conditions for thousands of people who have made their home in the region.
- View other relevant resources from the Community Engagement, Environmental Justice, and Health (CEEJH) Laboratory at University of Maryland