By: Matthew Pipkin, Columnist
On July 30, Annapolis awoke to a disgusting sight. The stench of foul garbage permeated the air as the harbor was laid to waste with trash and debris. The sheer volume of debris blocked boats from coming and leaving the harbor, in what is normally seen as the cornerstone of scenic downtown Annapolis. The rainstorm that struck the northeast corridor of the United States had overwhelmed the Conowingo Dam along the Susquehanna River, as gushing rain water poured in from Pennsylvania. This disaster highlighted a significant problem that has been largely ignored by Maryland politicians and activists for years; Pennsylvania actively neglects their responsibility to keep their waterways clean of pollutants as they flow freely down into Maryland.
To quote President Trump, Pennsylvania is not “sending us their best.” In fact, according to the midpoint report conducted by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in 2017, Pennsylvania is severely lagging behind their neighbors in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed in preventative and clean-up efforts for their waterways. The goals established by the Chesapeake Bay Program, after-then President Obama declared the Chesapeake Bay to be a national treasure in 2009, included goals for each state within the Chesapeake watershed to reach by 2025. The effort to reduce the amount of pollutants, including high levels of phosphorus, nitrogen, and sediment, has fallen flat on its face in the detailed report.
While the amount of debris that had flooded into Maryland waters was a travesty, it should serve rather as a wake-up call to the neglect being shown by our neighbor to the north. Regardless of your political viewpoints on the environment, there is reason to be concerned by Pennsylvania’s behavior as a Marylander. For environmentalists, the evidence affirms the clear and present danger that Pennsylvania serves to the health of our Chesapeake Bay and its wildlife. For Maryland taxpayers, every piece of debris, garbage, or pollutant being sent down the Susquehanna River holds a consequence to us, as Maryland taxpayers are stuck with the bill in paying for someone else’s mess. For Maryland farmers and businesses, they face unjust condemnation and stricter regulations and fines to help compensate for the land use policies (or lack thereof) being practiced by their counterparts in Pennsylvania.
What is the solution to this problem? A lawsuit. I believe it is time for the state of Maryland to sue the commonwealth of Pennsylvania for gross negligence and damages, and bring it before the Supreme Court under original jurisdiction. The concept of a state suing another state is one to surely cause controversy; perhaps stirring enough to force Pennsylvania to take immediate action for their previous policies of inaction. A petition has started to gain momentum on Change.org that requests that Maryland Attorney General, Brian Frosh, to begin the process of filing a lawsuit against Pennsylvania. I have also taken the time to formally write a legal complaint to the Maryland Attorney General over this issue, and hope to report back soon. As a proud Annapolitan and Marylander, I just simply have had enough of Pennsylvania taking advantage over a home that I love so dearly.