When Maryland voters went to the polls to elect a new governor in November, they unknowingly selected a new leader for the Bay cleanup effort as well.
That’s because Gov. Robert Ehrlich, who was defeated by Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley, had been selected as chair of the Chesapeake Executive Council at its annual meeting in September.
The chair of the Executive Council—which sets policy for the Bay cleanup effort—had never been defeated in an election before. Officials say the position stays with the jurisdiction selected at the meeting.
The Executive Council includes the governors of Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania; the EPA administrator; the District of Columbia mayor; and the chairman of the Chesapeake Bay Commission, which represents state legislatures.
Joining O’Malley as a new member of the council will be newly elected District of Columbia Mayor Adrian Fenty.
During the campaign, O’Malley said the public had a right to a “cleaner and healthier Chesapeake Bay.”
As governor, O’Malley has said he plans to revitalize the Maryland’s Office of Smart Growth, which was de-emphasized by Ehrlich, and indicated that he supports a more active state role in land use issues. He also expressed early opposition this year to a planned development outside Cambridge near the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge.
O’Malley said he supports policies to redevelop existing urban areas to reduce growth pressure on undeveloped lands. He also promised to promote and protect open spaces, and to provide increased funding for key Bay restoration activities such as nutrient-absorbing cover crops and streamside buffers.
He also promised to launch a program, called “BayStat,” which is intended to better monitor the health of the Bay and its tributaries and to improve government accountability on cleanup progress.
Meanwhile, Fenty, who will take the place of outgoing Mayor Anthony Williams, promised to make the district a “green leader in energy and resource conservation” and to promote “clean and healthy neighborhoods” which are pedestrian-friendly and have litter-free open spaces.
He pledged to support urban forestry and increase the number of trees planted in the city, which would cut air pollution and reduce stormwater runoff. He also said he would seek to reduce the number of vehicle miles traveled in the city by promoting mass transit, walking and bicycling.
Fenty also endorsed a 20-year goal of converting at least 20 percent of city rooftops to green roofs, a mark he said has been achieved in some European cities
He called for a goal of having 80 percent of all new flat-roof construction to have green roofs. Fenty also said he would promote buildings with improved energy efficiency.