The Politics of No? Or of No, No and No! Be In The Know With A Worthy Column From Bay Daily ~ Annapolis Capital Punishment

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Politics of No? Or of No, No and No! Be In The Know With A Worthy Column From Bay Daily

If you really want a good regular scoop on Chesapeake Bay environmental news, be sure to check out Bay Daily, authored by reporter Tom Pelton, now with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. See his latest below:

You may have heard that politics is compromise. Or that it’s something that you don’t really want to watch, because it might turn your stomach – like making sausage.
Well, look at the sausage factory these days, folks. Because the production line has ground to a halt.  We are no longer dealing with the politics of horse-trading or delay. We’ve entered the politics of no.
No health care reform.  No global warming legislation likely to emerge from this Congress. No long-promised stormwater pollution control rules in Virginia to protect the Chesapeake Bay. No much-needed strengthening of federal clean water laws.
No. No. No.

Bumper stickers proclaim “Keep the Change.”  Think about this statement.  What is this mindset, "keep the change?"  It's a full-throated celebration of the status quo.
No matter that the status quo brought us economic calamity, a Chesapeake Bay gasping for life, an eroding quality of life across America. Those who benefit financially from keeping the system exactly as it is today want us to "keep the change."
It's a revolution of the entrenched rising up and demanding their right to keep what they've got.
And because of all this negativity, I fear an uphill battle for the most important environmental legislation of our generation, the Chesapeake Clean Water Act.  The bill would for the first time put into law firm pollution limits for the Chesapeake Bay area states, and threaten federal penalties for states that don’t keep their promises to clean up the Bay. 
The legal enforceability of these limits is critical, because the Bay area states have already blown two deadlines to clean up the Chesapeake, in 2000 and 2010.
But no matter how important, the bill is meeting fierce resistance from lobbyists paid by national agricultural groups, because these groups want to preserve their long-held exemption from runoff pollution controls in the federal Clean Water Act.  In other words, they are playing the politics of no.
In Virginia, former Governor Tim Kaine’s administration proposed important new regulations that would cut down on stormwater pollution from developments, malls, roads, and other projects. This runoff is smothering the Chesapeake. But a state board called the Virginia Board of Soil and Water Conservation recently voted to put the rules on hold.
The construction industry is claiming that this pause and reconsideration is necessary, despite years of thorough analysis by the state and public participation. Roadwash! There is a huge need to reduce stormwater runoff of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment pollution into the Bay. The builders in Virginia are champions of the politics of no.
Of course, it’s always much easier to tear something down than to build. It's easier to defeat legislation than to get it passed.  But step back for a moment and consider the mood of what's happening here. All this suspicion and hatred of government is corrosive.  It’s eating away at our ability, as a society, to deal with our problems.  We can’t save ourselves, or the Chesapeake Bay, if we’re hostile to the whole idea of intervention.
It’s time for the rest of us to rise up and fight back.  Strike back against the doubters and foot-draggers and the high priests of no.
We need to have courage and take action now.
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