In Timothy Wheeler's article ("O'Malley lobbies EPA on fuel rule," June 16), readers are left with the wrong impression about why Gov. Martin O'Malley called the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on behalf of the Port of Baltimore. Governor O'Malley was asking the EPA to review a draft proposal by Carnival to spend $200 million to install pollution scrubbers on ships, which would allow the cruise line to meet the new air quality requirements.
The reason for the request? Carnival was finalizing its 2014-2015 cruising schedule and needed an answer from the EPA immediately on their proposal to use this new technology to determine if they could continue offering cruises from Baltimore. The governor's goal was to keep the family-supporting cruise jobs at the port and to protect the environment at the same time by calling EPA to encourage them to expedite a review of Carnival's proposal to use this technology to comply with the new Emissions Control Area regulations. The EPA already has granted temporary proposals to test similar technologies to other cruise lines.
Governor O'Malley is nationally recognized for his efforts to protect and preserve the environment. Under his leadership, the Port of Baltimore has made better choices and achieved award-winning programs to improve our air quality and improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay. These programs include replacing or retrofitting nearly 130 older pieces of cargo-handling equipment and older model diesel trucks with newer, cleaner and more efficient models; implementing an aggressive stormwater management plan with new filters installed on the marine terminals to prevent trash and debris from entering our waterways; and rebuilding eroded Chesapeake Bay islands, like Poplar Island, using material dredged from Maryland to create new habitats that are now home to many different species of waterfowl and wildlife. In Baltimore Harbor alone, the port invested $153 million in an environmental restoration project to remove 61,000 tons of trash and debris and to build the Masonville Cove Environment Center and Nature Area. Masonville has educated more than 7,000 students on how to protect the Chesapeake Bay.
Today, the Port of Baltimore is one of Maryland's leading economic engines, generating more than 14,600 direct jobs and supporting nearly 110,000 jobs in Maryland. The port's cruise business contributes $90 million annually in economic impact and about 200 direct jobs. If a cruise vessel is redeployed to another state, some of your fellow Marylanders could lose their jobs. In addition to protecting the environment, the governor's goal was to protect these jobs that so many local families depend on. From cleaning our air to restoring the Chesapeake Bay, Governor O'Malley understands that you can protect the environment and create and maintain jobs all at the same time.
Helen Delich Bentley, Donald C. Fry, and Theodore G. Venetoulis
The writers are, respectively, a former member of Congress and two current Maryland Port Commissioners.