Environmentalists to Seek Repeal of State Exemption From Stormwater Fees in 2015

A March 16 Capital Gazette article reported that with the apparently successful defense against amending or repealing the State-mandated stormwater remediation fee during the 2014 Session, environmental groups are looking towards the 2015 Session to repeal certain exemptions to the fee, including properties owned by the State.

While environmentalists have so far spent much of this year’s 90-day General Assembly session defending the state’s stormwater mandate, some of them say they may be back on the offensive soon.

This time their focus will be on exemptions from the law under which:

  • Some federal entities pay no fees. The Department of Defense has interpreted federal law to exempt its properties from such charges, and Fort George G. Meade and the U.S. Naval Academy don’t get bills from Anne Arundel County or Annapolis.
  • Most private businesses on federal property aren’t billed. For instance, the USO of Metropolitan Washington — which in any case, as a nonprofit, would have to pay only $1 under county law — has an agreement with Fort Meade to provide all of its utilities, said spokeswoman Michelle Shortencarrier.
  • The State of Maryland pays no stormwater charges, as its properties, including its buildings in Annapolis, are exempt from all local fees.

The article noted that while Governor Martin O’Malley has included money in the proposed FY 2015 budget for State properties to pay the fee, the monies and any future payments are not guaranteed and that environmental groups want to repeal the exemptions.

[Chesapeake Bay Foundation spokesman Tom] Zolper said the CBF would “absolutely” be involved in an effort in coming General Assembly sessions to remove the government exemptions to the mandate.

“There shouldn’t be exemptions. States have the same issue that local homeowners and local businesses have. Polluted runoff is discharging from that property,” he said. “Some places there are large properties. We don’t think it’s fair that the state is exempted from a process that they are putting in place for everyone else.”  …

Environmentalists said that repealing the state exemption and other exemptions could force the federal government to pay up as well.
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