Recommendations to combat climate change in Prince George’s County include reducing vehicle emissions by 50% starting in 2030 and creating a resident advisory group to interact with county decision-makers.
Those are two of the dozens of recommendations highlighted in a more than 200-page report from the county’s 16-member Climate Action Commission.
Kim Crews, president of the Cool Spring Civic Association in Adelphi, offered a few remedies Friday, Nov. 26 such as more adequate pick-up times for bulky trash and imposing at least a five-cent plastic bag fee.
Every Saturday, Crews said she and others from various neighborhoods walk up to five miles picking up trash along the northwest branch of the Anacostia River.
“Sometimes, we have to wait a month for bulky trash pickup,” she said. “If we had better bulky trash pickup and had the bag tax, you would see a reduced amount of litter refill. We think these would be some easy fixes.”
The commission that includes county, municipal and higher education officials, worked on recommendations this year to improve the environment. One piece of data presented this summer showed the combined forest and tree canopy coverage in the county at 52% with a goal to increase that percentage in the next 14 years.
The commission posted a revised plan on Nov. 10. Some of the proposals in the plan with possible adoption by County Council next year include:
- Register about 15% of vehicles in the county as electric vehicles by 2030, which would be part of a statewide initiative.
- Prioritize energy projects in underserved communities.
- Expand and encourage food and climate education in county public schools and community college’s agricultural/urban farming curriculum.
- Sponsor a climate-ready leadership summit that compares what other jurisdictions are doing; analyze costs to become climate resilient and assess health, financial and food shortage impacts to the county.
Monique Taylor, president of the Camp Springs Civic Association, said the county should focus on more economic development and less on residential construction.
“If we are trying to reduce emissions and we are continuing to tear down trees, that is contradictory to helping the environment,” she said. [Economic development is] not impossible but it is hard. Just have to work harder at bringing it to Prince George’s County.”
Statewide environmental assessment
More than a week later after the commission revised a countywide plan, the Maryland League of Conservation Voters released its annual report card on state lawmakers’ work on the environment.
The watchdog and advocacy group of Annapolis assessed this year’s work from Gov. Larry Hogan and the General Assembly based on four factors: energy policy, environmental justice, land and water protection and transportation.
The group assessed a “D” grade for the Hogan administration on environmental justice and transportation based on its “inability or reluctance to take concerted, strategic action to respond to the climate crisis far outweighs its accomplishments.”
Hogan’s administration garnered a “C” for land and water protection for its support in funding land preservation and open space programs and Chesapeake Bay restoration fund. However, the governor opposed science-based oyster fisheries management and sanctuaries.
The best grade of a “B-” focused on energy policy because of Hogan’s support for wind projects off the Ocean City coast and a focus to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The league assessed perfect grades for 16 lawmakers for their votes on environmental legislation during this year’s 90-day session that include three from Prince George’s County: Sen. Paul Pinsky (D-District 22) of University Park and Del. Mary Lehman (D-District 21) of Laurel. Former Del. Erek Barron of Mitchellville also received a perfect score but resigned after he received confirmation on Sept. 30 to become the state’s first Black U.S. attorney for Maryland.
As a group, the legislature received a “B” for its policy work on environmental justice and transportation. The high grade received praise for lawmakers passing a bill to replace buses with the Maryland Transit Administration with zero-emission buses and mandate the Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities “be more representative of and responsive to impacted communities.”
Lawmakers also received a “C” for land and water protection for passage of a stormwater management bill that requires the state Department of the Environment to update regulations every five years. However, lawmakers in the state Senate failed to approve a statewide ban on plastic bags.
The worst grade of a “D” resulted from a conference committee of House and Senate lawmakers failing to compromise on the Climate Solutions Now Act of 2021. The league called the disagreement for not passing the bill “a critical failure for Maryland.”