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Grade Inflation on O'Malley Report Card?

The Maryland League of Conservation Voters yesterday gave Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) an A-minus for his environmental efforts on a "Mid-Term Report Card." That makes O'Malley the first governor to score an "A-grade" since the ratings began in 1997, the group said.

But, already, another environmental group is complaining about grade inflation.

The league's report card praised O'Malley for his work on climate change, including his decision to join a multi-state pact to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, and his support of a failed attempt to limit those emissions by law. The report card also lauded O'Malley for supporting a boost in funding for projects to clean up the Chesapeake Bay. And it praised him for supporting funds for Program Open Space, which pays to preserve forests, farmlands and parks.

"I don't think that you can actually look at that and say that he did anything else but good work," said Cindy Schwartz, the group's Executive Director. She said the group now wanted O'Malley to concentrate on new projects, like a plan to clean up pollution washing down through storm drains, and an effort to limit tainted runoff from poultry farms.

One of the few subjects that the report card listed O'Malley as "failing" was the Intercounty Connector, the highway now being constructed to link I-95 and I-270 through the Washington suburbs.

"The ICC will add miles of impervious surface to a watershed already stressed from stormwater runoff, it will increase our global warming pollution, and, according to numerous studies, it will increase sprawl and not reduce traffic," the report said.

But that condemnation wasn't strong enough for the Audubon Naturalist Society.

In a statement issued yesterday, they said O'Malley's support for the connector was tarnishing the governor's environmental legacy.

"It remains in Governor O'Malley's power to cancel the ICC. Otherwise we believe that the single most costly transportation project in Maryland history will be his primary legacy, undermining any good work on a range of smart growth and environmental issues," Neal Fitzpatrick, the society's executive director, said in a statement.

David Fahrenthold

By Phyllis Jordan  |  July 23, 2008; 12:18 PM ET
 
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Comments

While it becomes more of a folly in a time of $4.00+/gallon gasoline and swelling Metro ridership, the $3,100,000,000 ICC toll road is an almost criminal waste of taxpayers money.

I understand the environmentalist's point of view as well as the displaced homeowners'. However, even for those of us who have not had our land seized and those who may not care about trees, wildlife and greenspace...there is NOTHING to like about the ICC toll road. It sucks our transportation funds dry and most certainly will lead to future tax hikes.

Adding insult to fiscal injury, even after we all fork over the $3,100,000,000 construction cost, we are not invited to drive on the ICC. Only those who are willing to pay the $14.00 per round trip toll are welcome. With gasoline nearing $5.00 per gallon, I will most assuredly NOT be welsome on the ICC, because I will NOT pay the toll.

Its been said that the ICC is just an expensive developers' access road that has allowed previously protected public and private land to be seized and bulldozed all at taxpayers' expense. There is just no justification to building the ICC toll road. I'd certainly like to hear justification if anyone is willing to try.

Posted by: Donny | July 22, 2008 9:11 PM | Report abuse

Donny, I hear your pain, but you are backing a loser. Road congestion pricing, (as distinct from simple tolls), has been a "fact of life" in parts of Europe for several years. It's coming to a traffic lane near you sooner than you think.

Those dang Virginians just stuck a shovel in the ground for HOT-3 lanes on I-495. Suggest you take a drive down Wayne Avenue in Silver Spring, and observe all the homes objecting to the route of the proposed Purple Line that have signs in their front yards that say "No Train on Wayne".

You are agin toll roads, the Wayne Ave. people are agin public transport. No easy solution. I'm more in your camp than theirs, but I think the good ole USA is still living in fantasyland on matters energy. Cheap energy under current rules is history. I recently paid $10 a gallon for gas in Europe.

Posted by: Count Bobulescu | July 23, 2008 1:27 AM | Report abuse

Count, you raise a good point. I agree that $5.00/gallon for gas (petrol) will look like a bargain in coming years. Nothing we can do about it...except plan, build, and tax responsibly. The problem is that this inconveniences developers and oil companies.

As gasoline prices rise and folks drive less, the ICC toll road makes less and less sense. I am still awaiting anyone who can try to justify the expense of the ICC toll road. What will the benefits be to taxpayers? I fear no one can respond to that one.

If I am "backing a loser", it seems I am backing the taxpayer. Until someone becomes our advocate for even the most basic fiscal responsibility, corrupt boondoggles like the ICC toll road will continue to bankrupt us all.

Posted by: Donny | July 23, 2008 8:05 AM | Report abuse

Good lord it will be great when the ICC is finally built and the stupid boring argument will be over.

Posted by: just build it | July 23, 2008 5:21 PM | Report abuse

I am in academics, and this A- is the most rampant example of grade inflation I have ever seen. I assume they are grading "on a curve", so judging O'Malley relative to Ehrlich before him. In fact, all of O'Malley's environmental efforts are negated by the damage from the ICC boondoggle he is forcing through, which flies in the face of his pronounced goals of helping the Bay, promoting smart growth, and fighting climate change. I wonder why he had his staff delete from the Climate Commission's report a science-based recommendation to assess the ICC's greenhouse gas impacts. And the ICC's $3+ billion pricetag is a crazy drain on stressed state coffers, that impedes sensible improvements and mass transit. Not good!

Posted by: Barbara S-W | July 23, 2008 7:16 PM | Report abuse

Hello "just-build-it". Can you offer us taxpayers a justification for this $3,100,000,000 ICC toll road? We are naturally curious what we will get in return for our "investment". Thanks.

Posted by: Donny | July 23, 2008 9:51 PM | Report abuse

I'm not a big fan of the ICC, especially the portion of it which will slice through Lake Needwood/Rock Creek Park, nor will it help my own commute, or be a very favorable option at $14 per trip. But the "slow growth" crowd should realize that there are tectonic forces driving the growth and the northward movement of population centers which are much bigger than any one construction project. The federal government, which was about 3% of the GDP before 1930 and about 21% of the GDP today, continues to grow. That has, and will continue, to attract more and more bodies, and therefore more and more cars, to suburban Maryland. Unless we put up a sign which says "Welcome to Maryland, now GO AWAY!", the newcommers are going to need more roads.

Posted by: afpre42 | July 24, 2008 6:35 AM | Report abuse

Martin O'Malley has been a disaster for the Anacostia River. His Intercounty Connector is going to be cutting through the best preserved remaining parts of this watershed in the Northwest Branch and Paint Branch and replace it with more impervious surfaces and runoff, causing more pollution to go into the Chesapeake Bay. The Anacostia River already has been found by the U.S. Geological Survey to be producing 10 times more sediment than the typical Bay tributary and instead of working on a plan to fix it he is building a highway that will cause more damage. Martin O'Malley deserves an F for his environmental record.

Posted by: Mike | July 24, 2008 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Isn't the League of Conservation Voters the same group that bought the election of Donna Edwards with a $500,000 "independent" contribution?

Posted by: 1/2 million$ | July 24, 2008 11:52 AM | Report abuse

So.... Gov. O'Malley gets off easy!! Great for him! HE doesn't have to live with all the destruction from the Intercounty Connector unless you count the destruction of the environment and all of the runoff going into the Chesapeake Bay --the very Bay HE finds important, or at least only finds important when it benefits him politically!!

Giving him such a high grade only means he can care even less than he already does!!!!

Posted by: Joni | July 24, 2008 12:13 PM | Report abuse

If anyone wants to compare O'Malley's green posturing with his record, visit the clear-cut east of Georgia ave to build an ICC ramp, and the soccer field behind Drew elementary that will be an ICC shoulder, and the 1,000 acres of forest that will be destroyed to make room for ICC pavement. not to mention destroyed wetlands, homes for animals and room for kids to explore their backyards. If O'Malley really wants to cut global warming emissions for Maryland, he needs to start by killing the ICC.

Posted by: Liz | July 25, 2008 11:55 AM | Report abuse

WHY are we building this $3,100,000,000 toll road again? Anyone?

Posted by: Donny | July 25, 2008 10:21 PM | Report abuse

All of this complaining about this road makes me think you people have too much time on your hands. You either don't want the road, don't want to pay the toll, don't want the purple line in your backyard or just like to complain. Focus on more important issues to complain about such as the war. That's the real tragedy.

Posted by: Stop whining | July 28, 2008 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Not a bad point, but waste and injustice should be opposed wherever they are found, no? Are we only allowed to opposed on thing at a time? I believe in America, we may still speak out against, oppose, and discuss anything we believe is unjust especially when it is being financed with our hard earned dollars. Anyway, this blog focuses on the environment and how its affected by the ICC toll road - there are other blogs about the war.

Anyone care to try now...to justify the $3,100,000,000 ICC toll road. None thus far.....

Posted by: Donny | July 28, 2008 10:42 PM | Report abuse

I don't disagree but Montgomery County hasn't built a major road in decades, but the homes, and development continues at a torrid pace. Conjestion over the last lets say 10 years in my estimate has cost much more than the cost of this road. Not easy to quantify, but if you include the increased fuel usage by sitting in traffic, loss of work productivity, and time spent in traffic, I say it's needed. Granted, I don't live near the road so it's easy for me to think this way, but if you don't want the road, the expense, and the inconvenience, then stop the development.

Posted by: Stop Whining | July 30, 2008 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Great point. The development will stop itself at some point, I guess..because there is no more land to develop in MoCo. Actually, that is the real reason for the ICC, it seized and cleared thousands of acres that were previously protected as public (parks) or private land (homes and yards).

So, that last point was circular and I think correct. Stopping the ICC is stopping development (in plain unpoliticized language). The $3,100,000,000 tax dollars that would be saved is just gravy at that point.

Posted by: Donny | July 30, 2008 10:27 PM | Report abuse

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