Environmental Community Reflects on Controversial 2014 Session Issues

An April 30 Bay Journal article (published in the May Edition of the Journal)  contained reflections from the environmental community on several controversial pieces of environmental legislation considered during the 2014 Session, including: (1) stormwater fees; (2)requiring an economic impact study before implementing a new agricultural phosphorus management tool, (3) delaying an Eastern Shore wind farm project over concerns about its effect on radar at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station; (4) Program Open Space (POS) funding; (5) the designation of new  State wildlands; (6) allowing farmers to place renewable energy facilities on lands subject to an agricultural easement and (7) removing “black liquor” from the State’s renewable standards energy portfolio.

The article noted that stormwater fees was one of the biggest successes issues within the environmental community:

Environmental leaders came to Annapolis this year with one overarching goal: Hold the line on the controversial stormwater fee passed two years ago.

They largely succeeded, battling 20 bills that sought to gut the landmark law requiring the state’s 10 largest jurisdictions to set up an authority that collects funds from property owners to pay for stormwater improvements.  …

“We came out very, very strong on stormwater. It wasn’t even close on any of the votes,” [1000 Friends Executive Director Dru Schmidt-Perkins] said. “It was clear that the General Assembly stood up and stood up boldly to reduce pollution.”  …

The article also noted the challenges faced in challenges facing POS funding (which is also supported by MACo)

Program Open Space managed to get back the $57 million owed to it from previous years, but not the $100 million the state took more recently. Advocates fought back a bill to cap the fund at $100 million.

“What’s so frustrating is that the support (for the program) is massive, and yet, every year, it’s a nail-biter as to whether we are going to preserve these funds,” Schmidt-Perkins said.