For Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, it ain’t easy being green.
The Democratic presidential hopeful will face protests on Saturday in Des Moines, Iowa, for being insufficiently progressive on environmental issues.
O’Malley, the two-term governor of the Old Line State who previously served as Baltimore’s mayor, has built a strong national reputation as a liberal. He’s pushed for gay marriage, a death-penalty ban, and been a strong advocate on a number of environmental issues including climate change, renewable energy, and the Chesapeake Bay. But, according to Food & Water Watch, a national nonprofit group with an office in Des Moines, O’Malley hasn’t quite done enough for the Chesapeake Bay.
Matt Ohloff, the Iowa organizer from the group, will lead a protest of O’Malley’s speech of the Iowa Democratic Party’s convention on Saturday. He expects 20 to 30 others to join him outside as they protest what they see as the Maryland governor’s close ties with the poultry industry.
According to Ohloff, O’Malley has failed to “hold his factory farm friends accountable” and stand up against the poultry industry’s pollution of the Chesapeake Bay with phosphorous from chicken waste. In particular, Ohloff blamed O’Malley for preemptively threatening to veto a bill that would impose a fee on every chicken raised in Maryland in order to clean up the Chesapeake. In Ohloff’s opinion “he’s shown time and time again that he’ll bend over backwards to prevent the poultry industry from being held accountable.”
The Maryland governor has also been criticized for intervening when a law clinic at University of Maryland School of Law sued chicken farmers on Maryland’s Eastern Shore for polluting the Chesapeake Bay. The suit was eventually unsuccessful but O’Malley was criticized when his concerns about the taxpayer-funded clinic’s participation in the suit were made public.
In Iowa, the news that O’Malley would be protested left prominent Democrats flabbergasted. They found the idea befuddling and were confused about it what would accomplish—particularly since O’Malley, who they viewed as quite progressive, was already going out of his way to visit the Hawkeye State and help out Iowa Democrats. (In addition to speaking at the convention, O’Malley is scheduled to hold several events for Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jack Hatch on Saturday.)
The news of the protest also prompted confusion and outrage from O’Malley’s aides. Lis Smith, a spokesperson for the Maryland governor, told The Daily Beast “There is not a governor in America who has done more to protect the environment than Martin O’Malley. In fact, he worked with Maryland’s poultry industry to ensure that they do their part to help clean up the Chesapeake Bay. Any protests against him are misguided and fly in the face of his impeccable record of fighting climate change, promoting clean energy, and cleaning up the bay.”