Pound-Wise and Penny-Foolish in the Chesapeake Bay

by Evan Isaacson | October 19, 2015

It’s a staple of the right-wing assault on government that “bloated” government programs, like those intended to protect the environment, are a burden to taxpayers. In my home state of Maryland, the numbers demonstrate otherwise. The percentage of taxpayer dollars spent by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) is tiny and getting tinier.  In 2014, less than one-quarter of 1 percent of the state’s general funds were expended by MDE, a 40-percent reduction in this share since 2004.  In fact, MDE’s general fund budget actually shrank between 2004 and 2014 – not just in inflation-adjusted terms, but in absolute terms – even as the state budget increased by more than 60 percent.  

That’s not to suggest that the state abandoned environmental programs. Over this same period, Maryland created several major new revenue streams, including a Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund, the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays 2010 Trust Fund, and the local Watershed Protection and Restoration Funds, which provide hundreds of millions of dollars annually to restore the Chesapeake Bay and other waters of the state.  But those funds don’t conduct the sort of regulatory enforcement that MDE is charged with; they’re focused instead mostly on capital projects. Clearly, policymakers in Maryland are interested in funding such capital projects, but appear willing to neglect the need for scientists, engineers, inspectors, and other officials charged with implementing state and federal environmental laws.  

It may be tempting ...

What Maryland Stakeholders Told Us About the State's Clean Water Act Enforcement Program

by Yee Huang | April 09, 2010
In preparing CPR’s recent white paper, Failing the Bay: Clean Water Act Enforcement in Maryland Falling Short, we conducted interviews with sixteen stakeholders across Maryland to assess MDE’s enforcement program as it operates on the ground. Collectively the stakeholders have decades of experience with enforcement at the federal, state, and local levels, as well as from environmental and industry perspectives. A full summary of the interviews can be found in the report, but a handful of surprising comments stood out. ...

New CPR Report Finds Maryland Failing to Enforce Clean Water Act

by Yee Huang | April 08, 2010
Today CPR releases a new report, Failing the Bay: Clean Water Act Enforcement in Maryland Falling Short. The report, which CPR Member Scholar Robert Glicksman and I co-authored, details the results of an investigation of the Clean Water Act (CWA) enforcement program at the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE). CPR provided a copy of this report to MDE, and its response (and CPR’s follow-up) is included as an appendix to the report. Overall, we found that state of Maryland ...

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