Research Continues on Microplastic Threat

A Bay Journal article (2019-06-17) reported on the potential threat microplastics pose to both the Chesapeake Bay and water treatment plants. The article noted that while the Chesapeake Bay Program has classified microplastics as a contaminant of mounting concern, researchers are still do not know the full environmental and health risks they can pose. Microplastics are very small pieces of plastic (often 5 millimeters or less in size) that now found throughout the Bay and its tributaries.…

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States & Cities Ponder Ending Detached Single-Family Zoning

A New York Times article (2019-06-18) analyzed the debate taking place in some states cities about reducing or eliminating single-family detached homes and replacing them with townhomes, duplexes, or other multi-family dwellings. Supporters argue the move is necessary to address affordable housing, racial inequality, and climate change. Critics argue the move could create infrastructure challenges, reduce property values and quality of life, and fundamentally upset the character of certain neighborhoods. The article indicated that several jurisdictions are…

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Governor & General Assembly Remain At Odds Over FY 2020 Restricted Funding

A Daily Record article (2019-06-17) reported on the ongoing budget impasse between Maryland Governor Larry Hogan and the General Assembly. The General Assembly has fenced off roughly $240 million in the FY 2020 budget that can only be spent on certain projects or if specified conditions are met. Hogan has not yet decided whether to accept the conditions and release the funds. As previously reported on Conduit Street, $8.5 million in local Program Open Space funding is…

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Delaware Considers Dedicated Funding Source for Bay Restoration & Water Quality Projects

A Bay Journal article (2019-06-07) reported that Delaware has moved one step closer to creating a dedicated funding source to address the state's Chesapeake Bay restoration and water quality backlog. According to the article, legislation providing for $25 million a year for water projects (House Bill 200) has passed out of the House's Natural Resources Committee and will be up for a vote before the full House in late June. The article noted that Delaware faces a…

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Speaker Jones Likely More “Mother” Than “Coach” According to Colleagues

A Washington Post article (2019-06-07) recounted the dramatic selection process that led to Delegate Adrienne Jones becoming Speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates and how her leadership style will likely differ from that of former Speaker Michael Busch. The article described how Busch passed away suddenly at the end of the 2019 Session and the sometimes tense contest that followed between Jones, Appropriations Committee Chair Maggie McIntosh, and Economic Matters Chair Dereck Davis to replace him.…

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Latest Pennsylvania Water Quality Assessment Finds 40% of Waterways, Including Parts of Susquehanna, in Violation

A Bay Journal article (2019-06-06) reported that 40% of Pennsylvania's 85,000 miles of waterways, including a stretch of the Susquehanna River, are in violation of the state's water quality standards. The primary causes are agricultural runoff, acid mine drainage, and stormwater runoff. The findings are based on the state's latest water quality report for 2018. If the report is accepted by the US Environmental Protection Agency, Pennsylvania must create a plan to address the violations. The state…

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Baltimore County Considers Solar Panels on Government Properties & Parks

A Baltimore Sun article (2019-05-31) reported that Baltimore County is considering a plan to place solar panels on a variety of public properties and buildings. The plan would involve a power purchase agreement with no up front costs for the County. In exchange for receiving the generated energy and helping the County meet its goal of 20% renewable energy by 2022, the County would provide the participating solar company with financial benefits such as tax credits and…

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Attend MPCA’s Annapolis Planning Commissioners Workshop to Discuss Regional Issues

The Maryland Planning Commissioners Association (MPCA) is hosting a Regional Planning Commissioners Workshop in Annapolis on Friday, July 19. The Workshop is part of a regional series of workshops that highlights the role of being a planning commissioner, regional land use issues, and the technical assistance and resources that MPCA can provide. From the Workshop's flyer: Learn about the MPCA, network with fellow planners and commissioners, and  join us in a regional conversation Topics will…

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Land Trust Alliance Offers Utility Scale Solar Siting Webinar

The Land Trust Alliance has opened registration for a November webinar on the responsible siting of utility scale solar facilities, particularly on lands subject to a conservation easement. The webinar, titled "Things are Heating Up: How to Site and Design Utility-Scale Solar Projects Responsibly," will take place on November 13, 2019. From the webinar's webpage: Your most ardent conservation-minded landowner comes to you wanting to put solar on her farm as part of her efforts…

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Federal CREP Funding Renewed for Stream Buffers on Farms; Many Existing Contracts Set to Expire

A Bay Journal article (2019-05-29) reported that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) will reopen signups for the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) after an 8-month freeze. CREP, which has proven to be a key program in Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts, subsidizes farmers to replace cropland or marginal pastureland with native vegetation or forested stream buffers. In return for planting trees or other vegetation to enhance and protect water quality, CREP provides annual payments through 10-…

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