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Just as Gov. Martin O'Malley's administration has been derided for implementing a tax to use for stormwater runoff mitigation, President Barack Obama will face considerable difficulty trying to complete some of his ambitious plans to reduce pollution.

A growing number of people and businesses are realizing that we cannot continue to pollute the planet as we have for generations. In a story highlighting some of Obama's environmental objectives, The Associated Press noted recent AP-GfK polls which show more people are concerned about global warming.

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"When AP-GfK asked Americans in November whether global warming, left unabated, would become a serious U.S. problem, 80 percent said it would - about the same as in 2009," according to the AP. "In those three years, though, those who doubt climate change has been occurring have become less certain about it. In 2009, 52 percent of those who questioned climate change said they were sure it was false. In 2012, that figure dropped to 31 percent."

And last month, Small Business Majority released a poll after Obama's announcement on environmental efforts that showed a majority of small employers believe "climate change and extreme weather events are an urgent problem that can disrupt the economy and harm small businesses."

That's certainly true for some business owners in Maryland. Last month, health department officials closed Beverly Beach on the Chesapeake Bay, Arundel Road Beach and Magothy Beach because of high bacteria readings in the water. Many factors, including stormwater runoff, contribute to pollution in our waterways. When beaches close, businesses around those beaches suffer.

And a panel of scientists in a report issued last month warned that the state should plan for rising sea levels up to two feet along the state's shorelines by 2050.

Sadly though, despite all the evidence of pollution harming our environment and rising sea levels, there are still many who think that we can continue on our current path with no consequences. Some deny our actions are to blame at all. Others warn that shifting too quickly away from fossil fuels would create an economic chaos that would produce more harm than good.

There's validity to that argument, but if anything it should prompt the call for development of a long-term plan to shift to cleaner energy sources and reduce pollution. We need to be aware of the economic consequences of trying to move too fast; but we also need to be aware of the economic consequences of doing nothing.

Just ask the businesses that are trying to operate around some of Maryland's closed beaches.

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