CCBA request for Governor Moore and MDE to declare air pollution emergency denied

CCBA received a response to our May 19th request for Governor Moore and MDE to use their authority to declare an air pollution emergency in Curtis Bay following an acid leak, diesel spill, deadly petroleum fire, coal explosion and the everyday exposure to pollutants from a concentration of industry. 

MDE and Governor Moore denied our request, you can read their full response below. 

Re: Call for Declaration of Air Pollution Emergency in Curtis Bay
Mr. Conaway and Mr. Sawtell:

Thank you for your May 19, 2023, letter, calling for the Governor to declare an Air Pollution
Emergency in Curtis Bay, and for overall action on the Maryland Department of the
Environment’s commitment to Curtis Bay.

As Secretary, one of my top priorities is advancing environmental justice within Maryland, and
this is a top priority for the Moore Administration as a whole. The Department recognizes that
the residents of Curtis Bay are overburdened by air pollution and other environmental impacts
from industry surrounding the community. This is why I have committed our Department to use
every tool we have available, to the maximum extent under our authority, to pursue
environmental justice for Curtis Bay.

In the letter, you requested that the Department invoke an air pollution emergency per Section
2-105 of the Maryland Environment Article. Section 2-105 requires that authority be exercised
according to regulations found in Section of the Code of Maryland Regulations.
Those regulations establish specific air pollution thresholds above which an emergency can be
declared. Based on available air quality monitoring data, measured air pollution levels in Curtis Bay
and throughout Maryland are below those thresholds. As such, the Department is not in a position to
declare a Section 2-105 emergency at this time.

Even though the Section 2-105 process is not an available avenue to accelerate progress
toward environmental justice in this case, the Department will continue to direct as many
resources and authorities as possible to this crucial effort. We will continue to pursue bold authority
and action and carefully assess specific incidents and the cumulative effect of pollution in your
community and throughout the State of Maryland.

We appreciate your continued partnership to advance the community’s vision for sustainable
development and environmental justice. If you have any questions, please contact Chris
Hoagland, Director of the Air and Radiation Administration, at 410-537-3201.

Serena McIlwain

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