Oversight Needed for Maryland's Occupational Safety and Health Division
Maryland's Occupational Safety and Health division (MOSH) is struggling to carry out its mission of ensuring the health and safety of Maryland workers, according to CPR's analysis of a mandatory performance report the agency provided to the state legislature late last year.
The Maryland legislature mandated the report as a condition of releasing $250,000 of MOSH's FY 2018 funds. Our review of the report and other agency materials leads us to conclude that the agency's limited budget is a key culprit in its shortcomings in recent years. Namely, MOSH is struggling with significant turnover among health and safety inspectors, and this management challenge is compounded by resource shortfalls. Without enough inspectors, MOSH is failing to meet its inspection targets, leaving too many employers to police themselves and putting workers at risk. MOSH is also declining to update its regulatory standards on a timely basis, which may also be due to insufficient resources.
The State of MOSH's Budget
As the state agency tasked with implementing Maryland's federally approved state occupational safety and health program, MOSH gets up to 50 percent of its funding annually from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Between 2009 and 2017, MOSH received only a modest 1.6 percent increase in its overall budget from both federal and state sources. Notably, the state-funded portion of the budget declined by roughly six percent over the same period, despite the fact that
New Report: Toxic Industrial Stormwater Widespread, Maryland Enforcement Seldom Seen
Those who take public safeguards seriously are well aware of the potential consequences that arise from the dangerous combination of poorly written pollution permits and lax – even absent – enforcement. From construction sites with failing erosion and sediment controls to ammonia and bacteria-spewing concentrated animal feeding operations, our waterways, their users, and vulnerable populations in the pathway of pollution suffer the consequences. Starting today, we add industrial stormwater to the ignoble list of poorly regulated sources of environmental pollution
Looking for Inspiration Outside the Beltway? See What's Happening in Maryland.
Thank goodness for state-level policymakers who are resisting the Trump administration's extreme policies. Attorneys general from around the nation are making headlines by fighting Trump's discriminatory immigration ban. Governors from both major political parties stood up to the attempt to strip away health care from millions of hard-working Americans and their children. And mayors and law enforcement officials are lifting up undocumented residents and recognizing their many contributions to our society, rather than assisting in the indiscriminate roundups Trump has
Hidden Penalties and Secretive Settlements Make for Lousy Enforcement Policy
If a tree falls in a forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound? More to the point, if law enforcement issues a civil or criminal fine or sentence without anyone knowing, does it have an effect? Thinking back to my criminal law course, I recall such philosophical discussions over the various theories justifying criminal penalties, such as incapacitation of the perpetrator, justice for the victim, and restoration of damages. But perhaps the most important theoretical basis
Maryland's Pressing Stormwater Infrastructure Needs
The water crisis in Flint, Michigan, is a tragic reminder of the hidden costs of our nation’s failing infrastructure. Whether through benign neglect or deliberate “starve the beast” cost-cutting measures, we are continually seeing the costly and sometimes terrible consequences of failing to meet our infrastructure financing needs. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave the state of U.S. infrastructure a D+ grade in its most recent 2013 Report Card, which included a D for both drinking water and wastewater
Maryland Deregulatory Commission Targets Protective Bay Regulations
Politicians are famous for reneging on, or conveniently ignoring, campaign pledges and other promises. In some cases, politicians put themselves in untenable positions, such as when they offer conflicting promises to different interest groups. This is when it becomes easy to see what an elected official’s true priorities are. Governor Hogan proclaimed that he would be “the best environmental governor that’s ever served.” Of course, he also campaigned for “regulatory reform” in Maryland. The Governor established a Regulatory Reform Commission
Maryland Submits Chesapeake Bay Cleanup Plan; Here's A First Look
by Yee Huang | December 03, 2010
Maryland submitted its final Phase I Watershed Implementation Plan for Chesapeake Bay restoration this afternoon. It's the strongest blueprint of any of the states, and if implemented and funded sufficiently would allow Maryland to achieve its needed share of pollutant reductions. Maryland has pledged to implement, by 2017, the pollutant controls necessary to achieve 70% of its needed reductions, and to an accelerated timeline by implementing all necessary pollutant controls by 2020. The plan has the most promise of any
Update on Maryland's CAFO NPDES Permitting Program
by Yee Huang | August 11, 2010
In June, I wrote about a settlement between EPA and environmental groups that requires EPA to publish guidance on the implementation of National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits for concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and to propose a rule to collect more information on these operations. In that post, I cited numbers from EPA showing that states in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed had many CAFOs without NPDES permits; for some of the states, not a single CAFO was permitted.
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