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Ben's Blog - Thoughts from Secretary Ben Grumbles

Remembering the kinder, gentler, greener side of President George H.W. Bush

I’m grieving the loss of our 41st President, an amazing public servant and ambassador of civility, who also had some significant environmental accomplishments for our country and our state of Maryland.

I was a Congressional staffer working on environment, transportation and public works legislation when he was President. I saw firsthand some of his green leadership. Here are three of my favorite examples.

  1. He signed the 1990 Clean Air Act amendments, including a bold new program to reduce acid rain. His Administration played a leading role with Congress in strengthening the law to combat sulfur dioxide emissions threatening forests, lakes and landscapes and to control urban, toxic pollution putting people at risk. The law’s market-based trading program has been a model for other successful environmental regulations.
  2. He signed the landmark Oil Pollution Act of 1990 to prevent spills, make polluters pay and establish a trust fund for cleanup and compensation while respecting states rights and the power of clean for coastal economies built on commercial fishing, tourism and recreation. His EPA and Transportation heads (Bill Reilly and Sam Skinner) played major roles in working with Congress to get long-sought after reforms across the finish line.
  3. He championed wetlands conservation by establishing a national “No Net Loss” goal in 1989 that was followed and enhanced by Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama. It set the tone for a balanced approach to regulation, property rights and preserving our natural heritage. His Administration also supported EPA’s role under the Clean Water Act in vetoing harmful projects that threatened our wetlands and waterways.

On top of this work for the natural environment was his relentless commitment to a kinder and gentler built environment for all of us through the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Bush championed this landmark civil rights law to prevent discrimination of the disadvantaged and change the way our country thinks about, builds for and accommodates the needs of our fellow citizens. The Congressional debates over the ADA were acrimonious at times but the final law has proven to be a sturdy framework for social justice.

Cleaner air and water, better protected land, more inclusive buildings and communities and a deeper commitment to civility are needed now more than ever. These environmental and social achievements of our country’s 41st President should be a reminder to all of us to recommit to greener and greater, kinder and gentler actions and ambitions.

Air, Land, Water – Did You Know?

Rethinking recycling through art

Rethink Recycling contestant with horse sculptureFirst Lady Yumi Hogan joined Secretary Grumbles at the department’s 17th Annual “Rethink Recycling” Sculpture Contest. The First Lady opened the event by welcoming student artists, teachers and parents.

First Lady Yumi Hogan and Secretary Ben Grumbles viewing artworkLater, the department awarded prizes for a horse, a dress and a cardboard human head – all made from reused materials. Students from Carroll County, Harford County, Baltimore County and Garrett County won the top prizes.The annual contest promotes recycling and creativity among high school students
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Our mission is to protect and restore the quality of Maryland’s air, water, and land resources, while fostering smart growth, a thriving and sustainable economy and healthy communities.