Residents and communities are usually the first to notice and report pollution in their local waterways. And they are often the ones harmed by that pollution. If a state takes action against the polluter, these citizens impacted by the pollution have a right under the federal Clean Water Act to intervene in the case so they can have a seat at the table and have their voices heard when a remedy is being decided. In Maryland, a very confusing court decision several years ago has meant that Marylanders have not been able to intervene.
There is a Citizen Intervention bill (SB334/HB76) sponsored by Sen. Jill Carter (District 41) and Del. Sara Love (District 16) making its way through Maryland’s General Assembly that will clarify and codify Maryland residents’ right to intervene under the Clean Water Act. Maryland’s Attorney General thinks this is a good idea and supports the bill.
However, the Maryland Municipal League and the Maryland Association of Counties are both fighting this bill, saying Marylanders shouldn’t have this right as guaranteed by the Clean Water Act. They don’t want residents who have been harmed by pollution at the table when negotiating with a polluter who has harmed their community. Maybe they are confused. This bill doesn’t give residents a new right; it clarifies a right they already have.
We ask you to send an email to your legislators urging them to support SB334/HB76. The communities and residents who have been harmed by water pollution should be able to intervene in Clean Water Act cases and the courts and the state need to hear their voices.