Legislator Focus–Senator Ben Cardin

From National Garden Clubs, Federated Garden Clubs of Maryland to our individual Carroll Garden Club, we agree to promote civic and environmental responsibility. The motto:

“I pledge to protect and conserve the natural resources of the planet earth and promise to promote education so we may become caretakers of our air, water, forest, land, and wildlife.”

Part of our civic duty is to be aware of the positions taken by our legislators on these issues of importance to us as garden club members and citizens. With this in mind, we will look at our Senators and Representatives beginning with US Senator from Maryland, Benjamin Cardin, Democrat,  who has been serving since 2007.

The following pieces of information come from perusing press releases and online information from his official website from May 2015-May 2016.

Senator Cardin is a ranking Minority member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. The subcommittees on which he serves are

  • Fisheries, Wildlife and Water
  • Transportation and Infrastructure
  • Clean Air and Nuclear Safety

Senator Cardin has strongly supported the Chesapeake Bay Restoration efforts. As we know, there are many related areas that contribute to the Bay problems–agriculture, water treatment, habitat restoration, industrial impacts and climate change. Also there must be work and agreement crossing state borders sharing the Chesapeake Bay resources and work with scientific bodies and other government organizations to receive or lend support. Senator Cardin has

  1. Procured funds for wetland protection and wildlife habitats
  2. Upholds EPA restrictions on wastewater treatment and farm runoff
  3. Publicizes and educates on things citizens can do to decrease storm water runoff (rain barrels)
  4. Supports reviving oyster aquaculture to improve water quality and increase sea grasses  through the work of Patuxent Environmental and Aquatic Research Lab
  5. Works with PA  to get funds for agricultural conservation efforts (soils)  in the Susquehanna River Basin which affect the Chesapeake
  6. Supports the Clean Water Act to protect streams and wetlands
  7. Support for National Marine Sanctuary of Mallows Bay, expansion of Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge and Patuxent National Research Refuge renovation, songbirds protection, building living shorelines at Glenn Martin National Wildlife Refuge after Superstorm Sandy damage.

On other environmental subjects, Cardin has lent support to growing Maryland green manufacturing–sustainable, recyclables, solar–and to setting  clean energy goals from carbon-free sources. He is for energy efficiency tax incentives.

  • He opposes expansion of oil drilling off the Atlantic, risks outweigh benefits and hazards cross borders
  • Called on increased transparency of real and potential threats from companies doing drilling
  • Opposed the Keystone Pipeline
  • Is concerned about the effects of fracking and supported studies on environmental and economic impacts–especially on places like Garrett County
  • Remove loopholes exempting oil and gas companies doing fracking from complying with Clean Water Act
  • Remove tax support for oil industry

Cardin interacts with the scientific community who see climate change is real and oncoming and that a failure to act will have catastrophic consequences to which no one is immune. He supports:

  • Climate talk negotiations, UN Framework Convention/Paris Agreement
  • Community discussions that work toward common goals of clean air and water with an eye to global change
  • Greenhouse gases need to come down, especially put regulations on Methane, which has 34 times greater impact than carbon dioxide
  • EPA should restrict ozone allowances in the Ambient Air Quality Standard (Clean Air Act)
  • Limit emissions from certain engines and vehicles

Senator Cardin has helped obtain funds for reclaiming Baltimore’s brownfields into greenspaces like urban gardens to counter food deserts in the city.  For agriculture, he believes in environmentally conscious soil conservation with federal support (as pertaining to Chesapeake goals). He promotes local foods (farm to table) and new programs to support small vegetable and fruit farmers rather than industrial farming. He has helped funding for Beltsville Agricultural Research Center that tracks pests and diseases. He also supports required food labeling for GMOs.

We have seen how the crisis in Flint, MI has galvanized concern over drinking water safety.  Senator Cardin has been strongly behind getting adequate funding to replace aging, decrepit water and sewer infrastructure and for lead remediation and has introduced legislation to that end. So far he has gotten grants and loans to Garrett, Alleghany, Talbot, Queen Anne’s, Worcester and Dorcester.

As far as preservation of our Maryland historic sites for the public, Senator Cardin has supported restoration of the C&O Canal in Washington County, a railroad lift bridge in Williamsport and the Conococheague Aqueduct in the past year.


Note: only the Fisheries, Wildlife and Water Subcommittee has met this year.  Introduced bills are often stymied by the Majority party by sending them “to committee” where they are then “sat on” until they die.