ANNAPOLIS — Congressman Andy Harris, R-Md.-1st, updated the Eastern Shore General Assembly delegation on issues impacting the Mid-Shore at the federal level, Friday, Feb. 8.
Harris discussed the Green New Deal, a resolution proposed in the House of Representatives, which has gained traction in national media since late 2018.
The resolution looks to replace the entire U.S. economy with 100 percent renewable energy in 10 to 12 years. Harris said the resolution should be of great concern to the agriculture and the livestock industry.
Harris also said he had been appointed to the Agriculture Subcommittee in the House of Appropriations.
“These would be crippling to the Eastern Shore economy if what is planned in that Green New Deal goes forward,” Harris said. “I think the good news is, is that the president in no way, shape or form would allow any of that to occur.”
Harris said he had met with President Donald Trump, who said he was proud to have temporarily held the Waters of the U.S. regulation, which Harris said was incredibly important to the agricultural community.
In the Farm Bill, the Senate took out the statute of the Waters of the U.S. regulation, he said.
Harris also discussed issues with electricity-generating wind turbines, which he said government officials from Ocean City had been opposed to. Harris said every day, the physical turbines get larger.
Harris said the issue he is concerned with chiefly is the opioid crisis that has gripped the nation. Harris said he and Vice President Mike Pence were due to visit the Port of Baltimore later in the day to discuss new equipment used to find drugs entering through the facility.
Harris also said he is concerned with the post-treatment of patients or citizens recovering from addiction.
“They need more care in the community, and right now the government is not supplying it. They’re not supplying the reintegration into the community and the maintenance of that, that occurs,” Harris said. “As I say, as a physician, you’re never cured of an opioid addiction if you’re only in remission. This mean we need to have lifelong programs for people who have fallen into this problem.”
Sen. Addie Eckardt, R-37-Mid-Shore, said issues at the federal level with health care funding had affected a lot of avenues to aid those addicted to opioids. She said the two areas of health, mental and addiction, are kept separate. To have a greater impact on the lives of those addicted to opioids, the funding should be uniform, she said.
“If we ever want to get to integrated care and do the kind of recovery programs that you’ve been talking about, we need to pool that together,” Eckardt said.
Del. Jeff Ghrist, R-36-Caroline, talked about Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts by the federal government. He said he hoped Harris could push hard for the states to work together.
Harris said the Environmental Protection Agency acts as an arbiter for state agencies between Maryland and Pennsylvania. He also said there was room for “out-of-the-box” solutions to improving the health of the Chesapeake Bay.
“For instance, constructing land out of the dredging material,” Harris said. “The river just north of the dam is very wide, OK. What about constructing land on one side of the river? Literally, constructing a compartmental island, except it’s not an island, it’s up against the shoreline?”
Sen. Steve Hershey, R-36-Upper Shore, talked about the multi-state issue of U.S. Route 301, and said the new highway had a detrimental effect on the Upper Shore.
“You’ve got five at-grade intersections between where that super highway cuts off and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge,” Hershey said. “The volume increase, the speed which is picked up, we’re going to potentially put ourselves once again in a very, very bad situation, which is not safe for our constituents.”
Harris said he was aware of the issue and read traffic on the intersection quadrupled in one day. Harris said he would write a letter to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao asking what has been done to address the safety issue.
“Then maybe they go ahead and give a little nudge to Maryland Department of Transportation to pay a little more attention to it,” Harris said.