Our beautiful Chesapeake Bay is being polluted by agricultural runoff and industrial waste, and by littering along our coastal shores and streams. Air pollution has been blamed for a high incidence of asthma and other respiratory problems among children. The presence of toxic substances in the soil may be deliberately hidden for years. As a result, it is difficult to know the full extent of ground pollution. The revelation in 2007 of high levels of arsenic in Swann Park on the Patapsco River in South Baltimore is a particularly scandalous example. The results of tests conducted in 1976 by the Allied Chemical insecticide plant that operated next to the park for over 20 years were never disclosed.
What I will do.
It is the right of every citizen to breathe the common air, drink the common water, and walk the earth and have it no more polluted than nature would provide it. My approach will be to determine the amount of a pollutant, say carbon dioxide, that does not cause health problems, then charge a user fee on each pound of carbon used and raise the user fee, say 5% each year, until a fee is reached that maintains the air at a healthy level. The same principle can apply to water and soil pollution.
Maryland can pioneer a return to the common law approach to environmental protection, in which land owners or tenants can sue their neighbors (be they individuals or corporations) to make right any harm done to their livelihood or quality of life. As a radical first step, I will sell the land under the Bay to private owners, with the stipulation that anyone is free to traverse the waters of the Bay at will, so long as they leave it as good as they found it. The bay will be treated as private property, and polluters will be subject to civil law suits by the bay owners. This will relieve tax-funded state agencies of much of the burden and expense of policing the environment and give it to those who have a vested interest in keeping the waters pristine. It will also encourage sustainable crab, oyster, and fish farming in the bay by its owners.