In case you missed it, on June 23, the PGCPS Climate Change Action Plan Focus Workgroup held its third meeting, this one on the topic of Environmental Justice and Equity.  We heard a great discussion from the panelists Abel Olivo of Defensores de la Cuenca, Staci Hartwell of NAACP Prince George’s County Branch, Emily Frias of CCAN, Maryland State Senator Clarence Lam, and Jan-Michael Archer of CEEJH.

 

The Maryland General Assembly is almost done with their 2021 session and many bills have been brought up that will have an impact on the climate future of our children and future generations. So we have been writing testimony on some of the more important ones as part of the Maryland Climate Justice Wing. Here is the final tranche of the testimony that we have submitted so far in the legislative session.

The other two sets of submitted testimony are here and here.

We were thankful to have been invited by Delegate Jared Solomon (HD-18) to testify in favor of HB 487, the School Pedestrian Safety Act. This bill would require Maryland school districts in high density counties to develop pedestrian safety plans for new and renovated schools.  Please call your State Senators to voice support for HB 487: https://msa.maryland.gov/msa/mdmanual/07leg/html/gacopg.html.

You can watch the testimony here: https://mgahouse.maryland.gov/mga/play/25319de3-6bf0-4fd7-84a3-c72432689d73/?catalog/03e481c7-8a42-4438-a7da-93ff74bdaa4c&playFrom=9101009

Here is the text of our testimony:

Thank you Chair Pinsky, Vice Chair Kagan, and the rest of the Education Health and Environmental Affairs Committee

My name is Joseph Jakuta and I man the lead volunteer with the Climate Parents of Prince George Campaign.

In pre-Covid times, one of the highlights of my mornings, as I was getting ready to go to work, was seeing a train of elementary school children walk past my house. They numbered three when they hit my block and by the time the got to the end it was seven, all cared for by a different set of parents each day. I know that by the time they got to our community school there were over a dozen of children walking together. Getting to know each other. Developing a community., It was healthier for children and encouraged the parents to bond, which fostered even more engagement and improvements to our community school.

But we have the benefit of living in a neighborhood built in 1910, when walking was still the norm. Children in many parts of Prince George’s County and elsewhere in Maryland don’t have that luxury. I know full well growing up in Northern Maryland how dangerous it was to walk to and from school along US One when I missed the bus or when I had to stay late for marching band.

But walking/biking to school is not just something nice to be able to do. Studies that we cited in the written testimony have shown that the increase in physical activity that can come with walking and biking leads to better health and learning outcomes for the children. Waking and biking reduce the pollution associated with car based drop off. For older children it increases the freedom to participate in more activities, while easing the burdens from transporting children on working parents. It is especially important to the children of the 10% of Marylanders and 15% of Marylanders of color that don’t even own a car.

Walking and biking to schools is important for the health, education, well being, and personal growth of our students and tHB 487 leads Maryland down the path towards that goal.

We encourage you to vote favorable on HB 487. Thank you for your time.

We are excited that the Prince George’s County Public School Board of Education voted unanimously to adopt the Climate Change Action Plan Resolution committing to phase out fossil fuels from and go zero waste in PGCPS and to implement a Focus Workgroup to develop the Climate Change Action Plan. 

Thanks so much to Board Members Boozer-Stother and Jackson for introducing the resolution and for all of the help along the way from the Sierra Club Prince George’s County Group, Greenbelt Climate Action Network, Eleanor Roosevelt High School Sunrise Hub, Eleanor Roosevelt High School Environmental Defense Club, and Kenmoor Middle Global Squabblers.

“With this resolution Prince George’s County Public Schools has shown it is both a state and national leader in regards to fostering a healthier learning environment using the clean energy technologies of the future. We are very excited to be a partner in the development of a successful action plan and believe this will jump start efforts to do our part to ensure a healthier planet and learning environment for the children.”

PGCPS Clean Energy and Focus Workgroup Resolution Press Release

The testimony we gave in favor of HB 630, Primary and Secondary Education – School District Energy Use – Policy and Study, was well received and the message was noted by in Maryland Matters.  ‘“What does not get measured does not get managed,” Joseph Jakuta of the group Climate Parents Prince George’s told committee members.’  Please contact your Delegate to say you support HB 630.

You can read the full article here: https://www.marylandmatters.org/2021/02/18/to-address-climate-change-schools-encouraged-to-go-green/

We are glad to be invited by Delegate Jared Solomon (HD-18) to testify today to the House of Delegates Appropriations Committee in favor of HB 630.  This bill would require Maryland school districts to begin collecting energy use data (if they aren’t already) and develop an energy plan of the district.  This effort dovetails nicely with what we are calling for in Prince George’s County and will be an improvement to schools throughout Maryland.

You can read the written testimony  here .

The Maryland General Assembly has started their 2021 and many bills that are being brought up will have an impact on the climate future of our children and future generations. So we have been writing testimony on some of the more important ones as part of the Maryland Climate Justice Wing. Here is the second tranche of the testimony that we have submitted so far in the legislative session.