MSBA Section Of
Traveling the tributaries of Harness Creek and the South River at Quiet Waters Park, just south of Annapolis, Roberta Barkman and approximately a dozen other kayakers gazed at a natural reminder of what they fight to preserve on a daily basis. Though Hurricane Isabel naturally eroded the park’s beaches in the fall of 2003, Barkman and her accompanying MSBA Environmental Law Section members battle pollution and any other contributing factors that would unnaturally jeopardize Mother Nature’s unique grace.
An Assistant Attorney General with the Maryland Environmental Service, Barkman has been entrusted with leading MSBA’s Environmental Law Section for the past year as Section Chair. During that time, she has kept the Section’s tradition of not only educating attorneys about the environment, but doing “things that help the environment, too.”
For instance, Brooklyn Park, a neighborhood on the southern tip of Baltimore City, now features more native foliage as Barkman, along with Shari Wilson, the new Secretary for Maryland Department of the Environment, James Harkins, the Executive Director for Maryland Environmental Service, and countless others planted trees on May 5. The venture was funded by a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust. Now, North White Oak, Redbud, Inkberry and Tulip Poplar reside on Baltimore’s south side.
More traditional, educational programs have been quite successful for the Section as a recent Outreach Program at the University of Baltimore School of Law was well attended and received. On March 13, Section members from various facets of Environmental Law spoke to students and professors about the intricate career they have chosen. At the end of that month, the Section hosted “Environmental Dimensions of Real Estate Development” in Columbia, for land-developers in Maryland. Guest speakers included Ron Serey, Executive Director of the Maryland Critical Area Commission, who spoke on development along the Bay; Adam Snyder, Assistant Attorney General with the Maryland Department of the Environment, who discussed wetland development; and Joe Lapan, an attorney with Linowes & Blocher, LLP, who spoke on various building codes in Montgomery County – one such example being “green buildings.”
Green Buildings were a major issue during this past legislative session as both the Maryland House and Senate passed bills that, according to Barkman, “codify the existing Maryland Green Building Council, which has to evaluate high-performance building technologies, make recommendations on the most cost-effective green building technologies the State should consider using, and develop a list of building types for which green building technologies should not be applied.” The State Senate also approved three different alternative energy sources (Wind, Solar and Biodiesel) during the session.
The “Clean Cars Act” was another hot environmental issue during 2007’s legislative session. Barkman notes, “After three years of debate, the General Assembly passed the Clean Cars Act, which requires [Maryland Department of the Environment], in coordination with [the state’s Motor Vehicle Administration] to enact regulations by December 31, 2007, establishing a [low emissions vehicle] program and emissions standards and compliance requirements for cars starting with model year 2011. The program adds carbon dioxide, the primary cause of global warming, to the list of pollutants that are covered by vehicle emission standards.”
“This Section tries to provide educational programming,” explains Immediate Past Chair Pamela Marks, “to keep the members abreast to legal developments that impact Environmental Law.”
Undoubtedly, there will be many new issues in environmental safety to arise in the future, but this Section remains focused on its drive to combat those issues and fight for the majestic and vital environment. In fact, Frank Levi, Section Chair beginning on June 30, 2007, has already scheduled a kayaking trip for next spring.