EPA Interstate Air Pollution Enforcement Challenged by Maryland & Others

A Bay Journal article (2019-02-11) reported that separate coalitions of environmental groups and East Coast states have launched legal challenges against the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over its lack of enforcement on interstate air pollution regarding power plant emissions. EPA has struggled to address the problems caused by interstate air pollution and recently declined several petitions to take action. Due to its location and weather patterns, Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay are particularly susceptible…

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2019 Environmental Summit Showcases Solar, “Green” Amendment, & Enforcement Legislation

The 25th annual Maryland Environmental Legislative Summit unveiled the key priorities of the environmental community for the 2019 Session. Their legislative initiatives included: (1) passing the Maryland Clean Energy Jobs initiative, which among other things would increase the state's Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS); (2) putting a healthy "green" constitutional amendment on the ballot; (3) enacting a state Styrofoam ban for food service products; and (4) ensuring adequate environmental funding in the State budget and enforcement…

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MACo Supports Continuation of Warrant Intercept Program

MACo Legal and Policy Counsel Les Knapp testified in support of legislation (HB 115) that would repeal the termination date for the Warrant Intercept Program before the House Ways and Means Committee on February 6, 2019. The Program allows for the withholding of income tax refunds for individuals with outstanding warrants. The refunds are released if the individual turns themselves in. The legislation was sponsored by Delegate Teresa Reilly. The Program has been an effective partnership…

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Court of Appeals Agrees to Hear Solar Preemption Case

A Herald Mail-Media article (2019-02-06) reported that the Maryland Court of Appeals has agreed to review a lower court decision (Board of County Commissioners of Washington County v. Perennial Solar) which held that Public Service Commission (PSC) could preempt local zoning when approving a large-scale solar project (more than 2 megawatts). The specific contested project is 42,000-panel array that would occupy about 86 acres and generate 8-megawatts near Cearfoss Circle in Washington County. As previously reported on…

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Animal Manure Anaerobic Digesters Continue to Work Out the Kinks

A Bay Journal article (2019-02-06) examined the ongoing struggles to use anaerobic digestion technology in the disposal of animal and poultry manure on Maryland's farms. Despite millions of dollars of State investment, no project has yet proven profitable or sustainable. However, even the failed projects provide important lessons as anaerobic digestion slowly moves to the United States. Anaerobic digestion is a process where microorganisms break down biodegradable material, such as animal waste or sewage sludge, without oxygen.…

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Lynda Eisenberg Begins as New Carroll Planner

A Carroll County press release (2019-01-25) announced Lynda Eisenberg as the County's new Director of Comprehensive Planning. Eisenberg has been the acting planning director since 2017. The press release noted that Eisenberg, a Maryland native originally from Calvert County, has over 20 years of planning experience, including Maryland land use, federal, and intergovernmental planning issues. Eisenberg has a Bachelor's Degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and a Master's in Geography…

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Climate Change Poses New Nitrogen, Phosphorus Challenges to Bay Restoration

A Bay Journal article (2019-01-30) examined how climate change will affect ongoing Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts. The article stated that additional nitrogen and phosphorus reduction targets will be added to the Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) in 2021 to address the additional precipitation and storm severity predicted due to climate change. From the article: When it comes to runoff, “flow is fate,” said Lewis Linker, modeling coordinator with the state-federal Bay Program partnership. More rain moves…

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Conowingo, PMT & Green Amendment Among Waterkeepers Chesapeake 2019 Initiatives

A Waterkeepers Chesapeake post (2018-01-30) outlined the group's 2019 Maryland environmental priorities, including the Conowingo Dam, the Phosphorus Management Tool (PMT), and a "Green" constitutional amendment. Waterkeepers Chesapeake is a coalition group of 18 waterkeeper programs from throughout the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays area. The group supports Bay and water quality initiatives both at the local level through grassroots action and advocacy and regionally through leveraging its members' strengths and capacities. Waterkeepers Chesapeake also…

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Washington County Commissioners Seek Public Input on Weekly Meeting Schedule

A Washington County email notice (2019-01-30) announced that the Board of County Commissioners is conducting an online public survey to consider moving the Board's weekly meetings in order to increase public participation. From the email notice: The Washington County Board of County Commissioners endeavors to create and operate in a participatory and transparent environment. The Board of County Commissioners currently holds weekly meetings on Tuesdays, with public participation and involvement beginning with citizen comments at approximately…

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MACo Talks Initiatives, Solar Siting, & Recycling With E&T Committee

MACo Legal and Policy Counsel Les Knapp briefed the House Environment and Transportation Committee on MACo and its legislative initiatives, county demographics and responsibilities, solar siting, and recycling challenges. Knapp provided this update on January 22, 2019. Maryland Counties Knapp discussed the diverse needs and demographics of Maryland's counties and urged that "one size does not fit all." Knapp also described the broad range of services counties provide (many either mandated or governed under state…

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