'Green' lobbyists invade Annapolis
Citizen activists promote environmental bills and issues at the State
By PAMELA WOOD, Staff Writer
Sometimes, for a citizen navigating the halls of the State House,
life can be challenging.
There are tunnels to navigate, endless stairs to climb and hidden
offices to find.
But other times, there are bright spots.
Last night, a group of environmental activists crowded into Del. Mary
Ann Love's office, prepared to pepper her with facts about raising
money for the environment and stopping sediment pollution.
"We're here to ask for your support," Annapolis resident
Joan Willey said earnestly.
Mrs. Love's quick reply: "I will."
The activists let out a collective sigh of relief and moved on to a
relaxed conversation with the delegate about environmental issues,
and her concern about people who keep too many pigeons at their homes.
After the meeting, they checked Mrs. Love off as a sure supporter of
their bills and moved on to the next meeting.
It was all part of the annual Environmental Lobbying Night in Annapolis.
Each year, various environmental groups marshal their members and explain
the finer points of key environmental bills being considered in Annapolis.
Then the members fan out to talk with their senators and delegates.
The lobbying night is unique in that the various environmental groups
agree on a handful of issues to support, even if they aren't the top
issues of each and every group.
Last night's lobbying focused on the so-called "green fund" or "driveway
tax" that would raise money for the Chesapeake Bay, as well as
a bill to require more advanced stormwater controls on new buildings.
While important, those issues aren't the top priority of the Chesapeake
Climate Action Network, for example, which is focusing on global warming.
But the CCAN activists were there in force last night, ready to support
After lobbying, some volunteers gathered at the Maryland League of
Conservation Voters office nearby to make "mud globes."
Mud globes are something akin to snow globes. But instead of a winter
scene with fake snow, they show an underwater scene - and when you
shake the globes, dirt fills the water, an example of sediment pollution.
The mud globes will be distributed to lawmakers in the coming weeks.
The lawmakers and their staff members said they like to hear from constituents
on issues they're passionate about, especially on Mondays, when organized
groups usually come to Annapolis.
"It's nice to see the groups working together. It's good for us
to see you," Iris Frey, legislative assistant to Sen. Bryan W.
Simonaire, told the group of Anne Arundel activists.
The group almost didn't make it to the meeting with the Republican
senator from Pasadena. They knew for sure he was in Room 401 - but
initially went to Room 401 in the wrong Senate office building, which
belongs to a senator from Hagerstown.
Once in Mr. Simonaire's office, though, they gave him a big cheer for
supporting the "Clean Cars" bill to tighten emissions standards.
Then they implored him to support the green fund and the stormwater
Mr. Simonaire said he's concerned about the bay, but couldn't make
"I will look at it and give it the greatest consideration ...
As they say, the devils are in the details," he said.
The group got a similar response from Del. Ron George, R-Arnold, who
ticked off a list of environmental bills he's sponsoring, many of them
related to tax credits and incentives for eco-friendly practices like
The Anne Arundel group last night included a mix of veterans and newcomers,
and they agreed that the lobbying night was worthwhile.
Earl Bradley of Annapolis, a longtime volunteer with the Sierra Club,
said he feels like more and more politicians are picking up on environmental
"What strikes me is that the environment is becoming bipartisan," he
said. "Members of both parties are interested."
Lisa Todd of Annapolis said that when she was first asked to talk to
a senator last year, she was terrified.
But then she had a realization that gave her confidence: "They're
here for us."
Published February 20, 2007, The
Capital, Annapolis, Md.