US Senator Ben Cardin Holds “Town Hall” With Summer MACo Attendees

August 19, 2014
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United States Senator Cardin holding a Town Hall Meeting with attendees of the MACo Summer Conference, moderated by Commissioner Jack Russell, President of the St. Mary’s County Commissioners, and MACo Treasurer

United States Senator Cardin held a Town Hall Meeting with attendees of the MACo Summer Conference, responding to questions from the audience on a variety of topics and speaking about transportation funding and economic revitalization in Maryland.

The Senator said he will work this year for reauthorization of federal surface transportation funding, supplemental transportation funding, and an infrastructure bank to allow Maryland to start its projects and help address future transportation needs.

Responding to questions on mental health care, the Senator shared recent progress on the issue in Congress including how the Affordable Care Act eliminates distinctions between mental health treatment and other care, and improvements in mental healthcare in the military, including pre- and post-deployment evaluations.

On energy policy, the Senator noted America’s advances towards energy independence.  He outlined the importance of the reauthorization of the export-import bank, tax exemptions for energy saving retrofits, investment in nuclear energy, and continued research into nuclear fusion.  The Senator also discussed the need for a federal policy on hydraulic-fracturing and development of a cap and trade system for market-based pollution reduction.

Commissioner Jack Russell, President of the St. Mary’s County Commissioners  introduced the Senator and facilitated the discussion.  Commissioner Russell is MACo’s Treasurer.  Several MACo Board Members and county and state officials attended the discussion.

Senator Cardin has been a national leader on health care, retirement security, the environment, and fiscal issues as a member of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.  He was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006 and he currently serves on the Environment and Public Works (EPW), Finance, Foreign Relations, and Small Business & Entrepreneurship committees. In the 113th Congress, he chairs the Water and Wildlife Subcommittee of EPW and he chairs the East Asian and Pacific Affairs Subcommittee of the Foreign Relations Committee.

 


MDE Workgroup Considers Cumulative Environmental Impact Legislation

August 8, 2014

The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) held the second meeting of a cumulative impact workgroup on August 7.  The workgroup is considering legislation that would require a cumulative environmental impact assessment prior to the issuance of certain environmental permits, including for air quality control, landfills or incinerators, water pollution discharge, and sewage sludge storage.  The concept is supported by certain legislators and environmental justice proponents.

Senator Joanne Benson (Prince George’s) attended the meeting and announced her intention of introducing cumulative impact assessment legislation in the 2015 Session.  She had introduced similar legislation (SB 706) in the 2014 Session that passed the Senate but was limited in application to one neighborhood in Prince George’s County.  The crossfile, HB 1210, was introduced by Delegate Darren Swain (Prince George’s). Neither bill passed out of the House.  MACo opposed both bills, noting that while consideration of disparate community impacts when granting environmental permits was worthwhile, the bills’ provisions would likely be costly to implement and produce questionable results as the science surrounding cumulative impacts is so complex.  Similar legislation, SB 4, was also considered during the 2009 Session.

The workgroup is exploring how to develop an assessment methodology that would be both accurate and practical to implement.  Further discussion is also needed regarding which permits are appropriate for cumulative impact assessments.  One stakeholder has suggested that rather than focusing on permit approval, restrictions should be placed on local zoning with regards to the siting of facilities subject to environmental permitting.

Handouts and Materials for Cumulative Impact Workgroup

MACo Legal and Policy Counsel Les Knapp has attended both meetings of the workgroup.  For further information about the workgroup please contact him at 410.296.0043 or lknapp@mdcounties.org.

 


Bay Trust Offers WIP Assistance Grants

August 7, 2014

The Chesapeake Bay Trust, in conjunction with the State, is offering grants to local governments and non-profits to assist in the design, planning, and programmatic development of projects and programs associated with a Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP).  From the Trust’s application website:

The Chesapeake Bay Trust, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, and the Maryland Department of the Environment welcome requests for the Watershed Assistance – Two-Year Milestone Support grant program. This program will support design assistance, watershed planning and programmatic development associated with protection and restoration programs and projects that lead to improved water quality in the Maryland portion of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, the Maryland portion of the Youghiogheny watershed, and the Maryland Coastal Bays.

What this funds:  The purpose of this assistance is to promote local engagement in the Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) process by pursuing projects that advance the near term goals of the WIPs. The WIP milestones reflect the near-term commitments of Maryland’s partners in the collaborative effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay and our local rivers, lakes and streams. The framework is designed to accelerate nutrient and sediment reductions to benefit local communities and the Chesapeake Bay. Funding will help grantees accomplish the earliest phases of restoration projects, and will assist with programmatic project support. Grantees may apply for funding to:

- Leverage resulting designs, plans, or projects to craft future proposals to the Maryland Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund;

-  Develop deliverables that will implement Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) Phase II strategies;

- Craft proposals for implementation funding through programs at the Chesapeake Bay Trust or other sources of support.

Who can apply: The Funding partners welcome requests from local government and non-profit applicants seeking to fund projects within counties for which 2014-2015 Two-year Milestone commitments have been provided to the Maryland Department of Environment. For local partners that have not yet submitted milestones to MDE, proposals will be considered if substantive milestone commitments are provided by a local government representative to MDE prior to the RFP closing date. See RFP for full list of organizations.

How much can be awarded: $5,001 – $70,000

Is match required? Match is encouraged but not required.

Deadline: The deadline is, Friday, September 5 at 5:00 pm.

Program Status

The grant program is currently OPEN. For the RFP, click here.

Grant Application Process

The Chesapeake Bay Trust’s grant applications are all submitted though an online system. If you have questions regarding the application process, please contact this program’s grant manager, Kacey Wetzel at 410-974-2941 ext. 104. *Please note: The Trust’s grant system works best in Internet Explorer, especially when uploading documents.*

*Applicants are strongly encouraged to apply several days prior to the deadline, due to potential for high website traffic on the date of the deadline. Technical assistance for online application cannot be guaranteed on the deadline date.*

Questions & Technical Support

Kacey Wetzel
kwetzel@cbtrust.org

(410) 974-2941 ext. 104

Start a New Grant Application

Edit a Started Grant Application


CoastSmart Communities Program Offers Technical Assistance for Flooding & Sea Level Rise Risk Assessment

August 7, 2014

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ CoastSmart Communities Program is offering free technical assistance to communities to undertake risk assessment and planning for flooding, storm surges, increased precipitation and sea level rise.  The following information comes from a recent announcement:

Do you need FREE Technical Assistance to help understand and plan for the RISK associated with FLOODING, STORM SURGE, INCREASED PRECIPITATION & SEA LEVEL RISE

If YES, then APPLY to work collaboratively with the CoastSmart Communities Program & NOAA to assess risk and vulnerability in your Community.   

How will this benefit my Community?

  • Identify what and who is at risk in your community
  • Visualize the risk (i.e display maps & data layers)
  • Provide information that can be incorporated into short & long term planning, hazard mitigation and emergency management
  • Access to experts from Dept of Natural Resources, NOAA and MORE
  • Position your community to be more competitive when applying for grant funds through the CoastSmart Communities program
What services will be provided to my community?
  • FREE Technical Assistance
  • Synthesis and analysis of data and information that can be integrated into existing planning processes
  • Develop products that are driven by the community’s needs that can be used to aid response, recovery, and resiliency

What commitments will this require of my community?

  • Identify a point person to be part of the project team & participate in monthly calls/meetings
  • Project length–September 1, 2014–October 31, 2015
  • Local personnel will spend on average 10 hrs per month
  • Multiple departments participate in  up to 3 in person meetings
Who Should Apply?
  • Communities that have started planning and implementing measures to reduce the impacts of flooding but have not done an integrated assessment on who and what is at risk.
  • Communities that are planning updates to their hazard mitigation, emergency management, comprehensive or other existing plans.
How do I Apply?
  • Fill out the APPLICATION FORM
  • Submit application to Sasha Land (sasha.land@maryland.gov) by Wed, Aug 20, 2014
What happens after I Apply?
  • Your application will be reviewed by the project team
  • The top two communities will be contacted by the community team to discuss application
  • ONE Community will be selected

The Project Team consists of experts from the CoastSmart Communities Program, the MD Coastal Training Program & NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science.  The intent is to link data, science and information to local planning processes for response, recovery and resilience to the impacts of flooding and changes in climate.


Delegate McIntosh to Address Women of MACo

August 5, 2014
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Delegate Maggie McIntosh, Chair, Environmental Matters Committee.

Delegate Maggie McIntosh will address Maryland’s female county elected officials at the annual Women of MACo lunch, August 15 from 12:00 pm -1:00 pm at the MACo Summer Conference.

Delegate McIntosh was elected to the General Assembly in 1992 as a representative of Baltimore City’s District 43.  She has served as Chair of the Environmental Matters Committee since 2003, placing her in the center of many issues of significance to Maryland’s counties and our state.  On August 15, the Delegate will be speaking about women in politics and her work in the General Assembly.

Learn more about MACo’s 2014 Summer Conference:

Contact Meetings & Events Director Virginia White with questions about Summer Conference.

 


Sun Op-Ed Argues Support for Federal “Waters of the US” Rule Makes Good Business Sense

August 5, 2014

In an August 4 Baltimore Sun op-ed, Chesapeake Sustainable Business Council Executive Director Stephen Schaff argued that supporting the federal “Waters of the US” proposed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the United States Army Corps of Engineers makes good sense for Maryland businesses.  Under the rule, the definition of what constitutes “waters of the United States” would be expanded to include certain seasonal streams and wetlands.  The newly included water features would be subject to the permitting and pollution mitigation requirements of the federal Clean Water Act.  The National Association of Counties and some Maryland counties have expressed concern about county-owned road and drainage ditches coming under federal purview.

In his op-ed, Mr. Schaff argued that the new rule will provide businesses with greater certainty in light of past United States Supreme Court rulings about which waterways are subject to the Clean Water Act and protect Maryland’s existing job and industry base.  He also cited a poll conducted by the American Sustainable Business Council purportedly showing that the majority of small businesses support the new rule.

The rule will give the business community an added dose of certainty — something they have been asking for ever since the Supreme Court ruled more than a decade ago. That’s why 80 percent of small business owners said they would support such a rule, according to recent polling released by the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC).  …

But the benefits to businesses go beyond that. Industries from fishing and agriculture to tourism and even technology rely on a consistent availability of clean water. Without it, they simply cannot operate. Ask any crabber whose catch will be limited this year, or the dozens of breweries now operating in Maryland.

That recent ASBC poll found that 71 percent of small business owners saw clean water regulations as crucial for economic growth, while only six percent said they were a hardship.

Prior Conduit Street Coverage on the “Waters of the US” Rule


Conowingo Plans Draw Attention, Concern

August 5, 2014

As previously reported on Conduit Street, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has developed a draft environmental impact statement on several Exelon projects related to its re-licensing of the Conowingo Dam and Susquehanna River facilities. Today’s Star Democrat carries substantial new coverage of these ongiong issues:

 

Exelon seeks relicensing to continue operating the Conowingo Dam — a hydroelectric generating power plant located near the end of the Susquehanna River, which often gets blamed as a major contributor of sediment in the Chesapeake Bay.

 

FERC estimates that the sediment collecting behind the dam in its reservoir, which Exelon touts as a best management practice that keeps a lot of sediment from the Susquehanna out of the Bay, will fill the reservoir to full capacity sometime between 2023 and 2038.

Part of the relicensing process pending before FERC is the environmental impact statement (EIS), which was released in July and includes FERC’s analysis of Exelon’s sediment management plan for the Conowingo as well as operations for Muddy Run Pumped Storage Project upstream of the dam.

Read the full Star Democrat coverage online.


Susquehanna/Conowingo Environmental Impact Statement Released For Comment

August 1, 2014

The federal Environmental Protection Administration has released a preliminary environmental impact statement for the relicensing of multiple Exelon facilities, including the Conowingo Dam.

From AP coverage, published in The Daily Record:

The deadline for commenting on the draft EIS published Wednesday is Sept. 29.

Exelon’s operating permit for the Conowingo dam in northeast Maryland expires Sept. 1, but it likely will be allowed to continue operating under an interim permit pending a final permit decision.

For more detail, see the full Daily Record article: http://thedailyrecord.com/2014/07/31/conowingo-dam-project-eis-open-to-public-comment/#ixzz39928DimJ

 


A Conversation with Governor Glendening at MACo’s Summer Conference

July 31, 2014
parris

Governor Parris N. Glendening

As Governor of Maryland from 1995-2003, Glendening promoted tax reform, economic development, and environmental protection. Prior to becoming Governor, he was a local elected official in many capacities: a city Councilman in Hyattsville; a Council Member in Prince George’s County; the County Executive in Prince George’s County for three consecutive terms; and President of MACo from 1986-1987.

Join Governor Parris N. Glendening for his reflections on his years of service and his insight into today’s policy areas of interest for county governments.

The discussion will be moderated by Phil Tilghman, former Wicomico County Council Member and public access TV host, whose “One on One” program regularly explores topics with Eastern Shore public figures.

Date/Time: Friday, August 15, 2014 from 2:15 – 3:15 pm

Learn more about MACo’s 2014 Summer Conference:

Contact Meetings & Events Director Virginia White with questions about Summer Conference.

 


MACo Submits Comments on State’s Zero Waste Plan

July 31, 2014

MACo submitted comments on the State’s draft zero waste plan on July 25.  As previously reported on Conduit Street, the State’s Green House Gas Reduction Plan supports moving Maryland toward a “zero waste” policy and achieving a statewide 80% recycling rate and 85% waste diversion rate by 2040.  In response, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) released a draft zero waste plan in April, and invited stakeholder comments.

In its comments, MACo offered five broad principles as well as responding to numerous specific recommendations in the zero waste draft plan.  The five principles include:

1. The State must provide financial resources dedicated to the zero waste policy. One of the key challenges counties have faced with recycling is that the State has mandated specific county goals but failed to provide adequate resources to help realize those goals. Implementing a zero waste policy will pose significant new costs on counties, many of which lack the necessary resources. The State must provide ongoing dedicated funding if zero waste is to be truly realized in Maryland.

2. Recycling and waste diversion regulations must be cost effective, flexible, and recognize unique local conditions. Many of the proposed zero waste initiatives will rely on infrastructure changes and the adoption of new technology. Zero waste regulations must recognize the costs these changes will create and not make implementation overly burdensome or expensive. Local flexibility is also paramount – the waste management challenges of Baltimore City are very different from those of the Eastern Shore. A “one size fits all” approach should be avoided.

3. All involved stakeholders must participate. If zero waste is to be successful in Maryland, counties cannot be expected to reach the State’s ambitious recycling and waste diversion goals alone. The effort will require participation from all involved stakeholders, including the commercial and retail sectors, municipalities, waste haulers and recyclers, and the State.

4. Ongoing consultation is critical. If zero waste is going to be successful, it is vital the State consult and collaborate with the counties and other stakeholders continuously. The consultation should not stop after the first version of the zero waste plan is adopted.

5. Further research on the costs and benefits of zero waste is needed, particularly as it pertains to Maryland. MACo feels that the draft plan does not provide sufficient research regarding some of its claims on the costs and benefits a zero waste policy would bring to Maryland. If zero waste is to be successful here, further cost/benefit analysis is needed so that a truly realistic and useful plan can be crafted.

MDE also hosted a local government stakeholders workgroup on July 29 that was attended by MACo Legal and Policy Counsel Les Knapp as well as numerous county recycling and waste management officials.  Based on feedback received from the participants, MDE plans to revise its draft over the next several months.  MDE also plans to meet with business and environmental stakeholders as well.

For further information, please contact Les Knapp at lknapp@mdcounties.org / 410.269.0043.

MACo July 25 Zero Waste Comments

MDE Zero Waste Plan April Draft

Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan Executive Summary

 


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