Kent County is now part of a rural county coalition that is lobbying for reforms to federal and state regulations on reducing Chesapeake Bay pollution. The move came Nov. 27 when the county commissioners handed $25,000 to the Funk & Bolton law firm to head up the effort.
Our question continues to be, though, just what are we getting for our money. Are we looking at lobbying our elected officials in Congress and the General Assembly, or the regulators? Is the coalition going to move toward a lawsuit to block the whole Bay pollution diet process?
Commissioner William Pickrum cast the dissenting vote in the 2-1 decision, saying he is opposed to bringing pollution reduction efforts to a halt.
"I don't see how I can be assured (the coalition) won't go in a direction that is detrimental to us all," he said, and we agree with him.
The coalition's origins are rooted with the Dorchester County Council. With Dorchester unable to pay the entire cost quoted by Funk & Bolton to lobby against the regulations, the law firm struck out to see if other counties would join. Cecil and Caroline both signed on, among others.
When the idea for the coalition was presented to Kent's commissioners, the talk was about the Conowingo Dam and the need to fix the pollution flowing through its gates before counties begin to tackle issues in their own backwaters. But Dorchester is nowhere near the dam.
Our concern is that this coalition is a stall tactic, and Conowingo a front to scrap the pollution diet.
We know the costs are great to clean up the Bay. We also think the model on which the pollution diet's goals are based is flawed. And we have concerns about any state and federal regulations based primarily on numeric goals, without taking into account the unique nature of each jurisdiction involved.
But we need to move forward with cleaning up our local rivers, which in turn will lead to a cleaner bay.
And as for hiring a law firm to lobby for us, our state legislators are already fighting to fix the Conowingo Dam and change the pollution diet regulations.
On Capitol Hill, our congressman, Andy Harris, has made clear his opposition to the entire process, while our two senators steadfastly support it so good luck changing the minds of any of those three.
The county has made the deal with Funk & Bolton. We hope that taxpayer money goes to good use in addressing issues with pollution regulations, not tossing them completely overboard.