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Confiscate the Bay License Plates of Sprawl Highway Supporters

Kalbird1 You can’t have your Bay and pave it, too.  Any public officials who support the sprawl-inducing Cross County Connector highway project in Southern Maryland – which would wipe out wetlands and forests and pollute one of the Bay’s most prolific fish-breeding grounds – should have their "Treasure the Chesapeake” license plates confiscated and recycled. 

The obvious hypocrisy of the government both claiming to “Save the Bay” and supporting massive highway projects to facilitate exurban development is one of the strongest points of an essay published in the University of Maryland Diamondback called “Chesapeake Bay: Speake of the Devil,” by Matt Dernoga, a senior at the College Park campus (pictured below).  You can also read it on his blog by clicking here.

Dernoga Who cares about a student essay?  Well, this is our future.  There is incredible power in the green movement that is growing in college campuses across the U.S.  And who knows, maybe Matt will be governor some day... and will be able to give the thumbs-down himself to highways like the Charles County Cross County Connector.

In his article, Matt first criticizes all the blown deadlines that the federal and state governments have set to restore the Chesapeake.  First, we were going to clean up the Bay by 2000. Then by 2010.  Now the new goal is to have all the policies in place by 2025.

Here’s a taste of what he has to say
“Doesn't anyone find it ironic that we decided to have the words'Treasure the Chesapeake' engraved on the back of license plates? License plates which happen to be attached to cars running on roads which has sediment pollution runoff that is ruining the Chesapeake. This is symbolic of our problem… The Maryland Department of Environment (MDE) is now considering granting a permit for the cross-county connector. This new Charles County highway would drive right through the Mattawoman Watershed, which flows into the bay.

Annapolis recently ensured we'll continue our happy highway construction by weakening a smart growth bill this past session that would have put some teeth behind responsible development and anti-sprawl benchmarks. Poor land-use planning and highway construction have become coordinated catastrophes that make our clean-up deadline of 2025 a flatline.”

Any responses, Bay Daily readers?




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Hey Tom thanks for making a post about my column.

I do want to say that there are some in Annapolis trying to do good things around the Bay, but in my opinion far too many of our politicians talk out of both sides of their mouth. It's very much a one step forward two steps back approach which is very politically convenient, but doesn't address a serious problem.

I would hope that voters in 2010 can start asking tough questions about voting records and make it clear that issues such as smart growth, sustainable transportation, controlling runoff pollution, and mitigating global warming are interconnected. You have to address all of them aggressively to save the bay.

they're the same public officials that give us wishy-washy bay politics and that's why there has been no real progress on the bay.

We can't have our Bay and pave it too. So True!
The Charles County officials though, actually say
that their 'connector highway' is designed to protect
the water quality of Mattawoman Creek. Best Management
Practices will never be able to replace the filtering value of the
existing forest. The following is an important quote from the
2007 Chesapeake Bay Report: "The pollution increases associated
with land development --such as converting farms and forests to
urban and suburban developments --have surpassed the gains achieved from improved
landscape design and stormwater management practices. Pollution from
urban and suburban lands is now the only pollution sector in the Bay watershed that is still growing."

The Charles County Commissioners have only one thing in mind -
to "pave" Charles County from end to end.

They have little interest in anything else. They receive the bulk of their campaign contributions from the development community, i.e. builders, real estate, and similar interests.

The CCC-X will serve to ensure that dollars continue to flow to their campaign coffers for years to come.

With Bryans Road slated to become "Western Waldorf", this explains why the Commissioners and their developer cohorts continue to press for the CCC-X with such zeal & determination.

The Commissioner President has a waterfront residence in St. Mary's County, to which he can "escape" and another Commissioner has a residence in Delaware for sanctuary.

Neither one has to live with the consequences of their actions, but the Mattawoman will be destroyed FOREVER.

Tom, thanks for bringing Matt Dernoga's essay to the fore. Matt's point about a 2025 Bay clean-up deadline destined to become a flatline is perfectly aligned with the predictions for Mattawoman Creek with business as usual, epitomized by Charles County's Cross County Connector extension. By then, the watershed would be nearing a 15% impervious cover, heading for almost 25%, according to the county's own Watershed Management Plan, authored by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. A 15% level is well known to inflict severe impacts to aquatic resources through erosive stormwater flows, sediment, excess nutrients, thermal spikes, and parched conditions between storms. The Management Plan even states: "These intense development practices would have severe repercussions on the biological community and would decrease the habitat quality within the estuary."

One of the latest linchpins for cleaning up the Bay, which underlies the 2025 goal, is development and enforcement of Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for nutrients and sediment washing from watersheds. But if Mattawoman is any gauge, Matt's flatline for the Bay is indeed what is in store. Mattawoman has had an accepted TMDL for over four years, which "requires" nutrients to be reduced by 40%. Yet the hydrological models in the Mattawoman Watershed Management Plan predicts a 50% INCREASE with business-as-usual development. There simply appears to be no enforcement mechanisms for non-point contributions to TMDLs and no political will to fix the problem. If we can’t muster a fix for the Bay's most productive tributary from a fisheries standpoint, how will we restore the Bay at large?

This is but one reason why the Maryland Department of Environment should deny the wetland permits for the CCC-ex. This would help create the will to switch priorities from new highways to 21st transportation solutions. In fact, in Charles County, light rail is poised to connect Waldorf, its urban core, to Washington’s Metro, but is always placed below new highways on the county’s priority list.

Some are so delusional as to say that the highway will help a functioning ecosystem. Who would believe such an impossible statement? No science or accurate cost analysis for them, please. Fortunately, every day more citizens are becoming aware of the big picture and are understanding that our quality of life, and our very future, depends on functioning ecosystems. Sadly, if those who want the highway "win", we will ALL lose.

I put a link to this Bay Daily article on the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Facebook page, and received comments from 8 readers.

They were asked: Do you AGREE or DISAGREE with the idea of revoking the 'Treasure the Chesapeake' license plates of public officials who support the "sprawl highway" (Cross County Connector) in Charles County?

Here are the responses:

* Disagree. We need an 8 lane highway down 301 to bypass Washington DC. All non-local trucks would have to take the bypass. This would eliminate 300,000 to 500,000 trips on 495 daily.

* DC is the only major city on the I-95 corridor that does not have a bypass.

* Disagree

* Disagree. Not worth alienating public officials who may support future CBF initiatives, and while MD has allowed them to be placed on gas hogging vehicles. CBT plates are supposed to raise money for Bay Trust projects, no? So it's unfortunate that some lawmakers take a forked tongue approach to land use and enviro policy, but revoking plates will only rob CBT of needed funds. Oh, and MD is facing a $700M shortfall this FY.

* Hahaha, of course agree. we ought to take their driver license away too! they're probably the same public officials that give us wishy-washy bay politics and that's why there has been no real progress on the bay.

* And while you're at it, you may as well confiscate the CBT plates of anyone who lives within 1,000 feet of the bay or a tributary and fertilizes their lawn. ReportElisabeth Carrozza Wilkins at 5:17pm July 10

* AGREE!!!!!!!

* Totally agree!! The Intercounty Connector is such a scam.

* Whole-heartedly AGREE

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