Governor Hogan Announces PlanMaryland Repeal at 2017 #MACoCon

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan

Maryland Governor “Lawrence “Larry” Hogan highlighted the achievements of his Administration, including the announcement of a new State Development Plan that would replace PlanMaryland, during his closing remarks at the 2017 MACo Summer Conference on August 19.

Hogan thanked counties for their service and noted the importance of the State partnering with the counties. He stated that his Administration has provided $22 billion in local aid during his term – the highest amount ever. Regarding his Administration, he stressed that “[we] have strived to bring state government directly to the people of Maryland.”

State Development Plan/PlanMaryland

Hogan’s primary announcement concerned the signing of a new executive order that formally repealed PlanMaryland, the State’s previous State Development Plan, and announced a new collaborative effort, which will include MACo, the Maryland Municipal League, regional planning commissions, and other stakeholders, to develop a new Plan. “We want to build a better framework for a better Maryland,” Hogan stated.

(Note: Maryland is required to adopt a State Development Plan under Title 5 of the State Finance and Procurement Article.)

Economic Development

The Governor cited many statistics related to the State’s economic development and growth, noting that Maryland nationally ranks: (1) 3rd in entrepreneurship; (2) 3rd in research and development; (3) 2nd in STEM employment; (4) 2nd for the lowest poverty rate; and (5) 1st  in median household income. He stated Maryland has gained 110,000 jobs under his Administration and has nationally gone from 49th to 7th in economic growth.

Public Education

Hogan noted the FY 2018 Budget delivered a record investment in public education, including community colleges and libraries, for the third year in a row.

Chesapeake Bay

Hogan discussed the ongoing work of restoring the Chesapeake Bay, noting that the Bay recently received its highest grade for water quality in 25 years. He stated that his Administration has invested a record $3 billion in bay restoration efforts, including additional funding for the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund and restoring previously cut funding to the Bay Restoration Fund.

He summarized his actions regarding the sediment and nutrient challenge posed by the Conowingo Dam and stated he was issuing a “request for proposals” for test dredging of the Conowingo basin. Hogan also reiterated that he repealed the 2012 best available technology for nitrogen removal (BAT) septic system requirement everywhere in the State. The BAT requirement remains within the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Critical Area and counties have the option of requiring BAT systems for individual sites or more broadly.

Zero Waste

The Governor also summarized his recent executive order repealing a previous ban on permits for county landfills and stated that his Administration is not abandoning zero waste principles but transitioning to a more collaborative process. According to Hogan, the new process stresses three Rs: “reduce, reuse, and recycle.”

Opioid Crisis

Hogan briefly touched on the ongoing heroin and opioid epidemic, noting that he has declared a state of emergency over the issue and has provided $50 million in new funding and over $500 million in total funding to fight the problem. He stated that it will take all levels of government to solve the problem and urged counties to help fast-track authority for their local health departments to take advantage of the newly available funding.

Program Open Space and Land Acquisition Programs

Hogan highlighted the $360 million for Program Open Space (POS) and other land acquisition programs. He noted this was the first time POS was fully funded in more than a decade. He also praised legislation introduced by his Administration that provided some protections for future POS funding.

Transportation

The Governor touted his transportation actions, including providing $14.8 billion in the state’s consolidated transportation plan that has enabled approximately 1,000 transportation projects throughout the state. He also noted that his Administration successfully repealed “the disastrous road kill bill” (formally titled the “Maryland Open Transportation Investment Decision Act of 2016” and also known as the “scorecard bill”).

On the subject of Highway User Revenues (HUR), Hogan noted his Administration recently announced an additional $38 million in grants for local transportation projects and pledged, “We will not stop fighting for you until we have fully restored highway user revenues to their historic levels.”

Concluding Remarks

Hogan concluded by posing a challenge to the attendees. “Each and every day we are given the opportunity to do something great,” he said, and urged everyone to make the most of each day. The Governor pledged that his Administration “can and will continue to change Maryland for the better.”

Other Information

MACo President and Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz

MACo President and Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz introduced the Governor and also stressed the importance of the MACo Summer Conference. “We take great pride in the quantity, quality, and diversity of our [conference] panels,” he stated. Kamenetz also noted the Conference provides valuable informal opportunities to share ideas and information.

Kamenetz presided over a $5,000 award by the Maryland/Delaware/DC Beverage Association for the best county booth. The award went to Kent County for a charity of the county’s choice. The County chose the Kent Center – a nonprofit that provides cooking and meal preparation jobs to adults with developmental disabilities. The County brought treats prepared by the Center to the MACo Conference’s Taste of Maryland Reception.

Useful Links

Governor Hogan Webpage

Executive Order 01.01.2017.18 State Development Plan

Kevin Kamenetz Baltimore County Webpage

Maryland Delaware DC Beverage Association Facebook Page

Kent Center Website

 

Perfecting Public Private Partnerships At #MACoCon

 

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Sallye Perrin, Senior Vice President, WSP USA

Public private partnerships, or P3s, can provide innovative solutions to advancing county projects from economic development and broadband deployment to stormwater management and green infrastructure investment. MACo’s Summer Conference session, “Perfecting the Potential of Public Private Partnerships,” took place on Friday, August 18, at 1:00 pm. Attendees lucky enough to find space in the standing-room-only session heard best practices from national experts and real examples of successful P3s from the private sector and Maryland county officials.

 

Sallye Perrin, Senior Vice President, WSP USA provided a detailed overview of what constitutes a successful P3 and how they can advance projects such as bridge bundling and LED street lighting installations. Ken Ulman, CEO, Margrave Strategies dynamically presented on all of the benefits coming to fruition from economic development in Greater College Park: over 30 projects and $2 billion in public and

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Ken Ulman, CEO, Margrave Strategies

private investment. Jim McCormick,  CIO, Caroline County showed how government and the private sector can partner to advance broadband in rural communities. Adam Ortiz, Director of Prince George’s Department of the Environment rounded out the session with a detailed description of his department’s innovative P3 to address the retrofit of 2,000 impervious acres with green infrastructure. The Honorable Steve Hershey, MD State Senate moderated the fast-paced, detailed session.img_0253

 

 

Debating Environmental Justice & Land Use at 2017 #MACoCon

County officials engaged in an discussion on how to incorporate environmental justice concerns into land use planning processes on August 17 at the 2017 MACo Summer Conference.

From Left to Right: Dick Fairbanks, Rebecca Rehr, and Philip Hager

The panel “Environmental Justice and County Land Use: Finding the Win-Win Scenario” featured two members of the Maryland Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities who discussed a wide range of issues and challenges surrounding environmental justice and county land use: (1) Maryland Environmental Health Network Public Policy and Advocacy Manager Rebecca Rehr; and (2) Friends of Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park Vice President Dick Fairbanks.

The panelists discussed how to handle the sometimes adversarial stance taken by different stakeholders during discussions on environmental justice issues, how to incorporate environmental justice issues into areas with existing or historical land development patterns, handling the political realities posed by environmental justice, and dealing with extreme positions taken by stakeholders.

Both Rehr and Fairbanks stressed the importance of consulting with affected communities and the need for environmental justice advocates to engage with counties during the planning and zoning processes rather than simply introducing legislation at the state level. Rehr noted that the use of geographic information services (GIS) data makes it much easier for counties to identify and respond to environmental justice concerns related to specific projects.

Audience members questioned where the line was between genuine community concerns related to health versus a “not in my backyard” mentality. Fairbanks stated that the Commission was an advisory body and typically only considers cases that have provable health impacts as opposed to potential NIMBY situations.

Maryland Association of County Planning Officials President and Anne Arundel County Planning and Zoning Officer Philip Hager moderated the panel.

MDE Provides Update on Zero Waste, New Collaborative Efforts at 2017 #MACoCon

The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) provided an update to county and private waste haulers on Governor Lawrence “Larry” Hogan’s recent executive order that repealed a ban on new county landfills and set forth a new solid waste reduction strategy for the state on August 17 at the 2017 MACo Summer Conference.

Secretary of the Environment Benjamin Grumbles was joined by several MDE officials and private consultants to discuss the new approach. “The key word is collaboration,” Grumbles stressed.

After providing an overview of the executive order, several private consultants discussed the Administration’s  vision of linking “energy, economy, and the environment” in the new solid waste approach, which would entail both collaboration with local governments and public-private partnerships.

Grumbles also noted that the new strategy is focused on sustainability and will include zero waste principles, energy use policies, and better waste tracking and statistical information. MDE wants to meet with county governments by the end of the year and identify key materials that have been problematic to remove from the waste stream. MDE is also continuing to work on composting and diversion for organics.

Useful Links

Conduit Street Article on Hogan’s Solid Waste & Landfill Executive Order

Hogan Stresses Bay & Environmental Achievements in Sun Op-Ed

In a Baltimore Sun op-ed (2017-08-10), Maryland Governor Lawrence “Larry” Hogan discussed his Administration’s efforts on restoring the Chesapeake Bay and the need for Maryland to find a solution for the sediment and nutrient pollution posed by the Conowingo Dam. The dam basin, which for decades has served as a trap for sediment and nutrients flowing down the Susquehanna River, appears to be at capacity.

Hogan noted that his Administration has: (1) spent $3 billion in Bay restoration efforts in two and a half years; (2) restored funding for Program Open Space and the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund; (3) developed a new Phosphorus Management Tool for agriculture; (4) enacted a revised Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act and Maryland Climate Change Commission; (5) prohibited natural gas hydraulic fracturing (commonly known as “fracking”) in the State; (6) worked to update the multi-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI); (7) undertaken infrastructure resiliency efforts based on climate change, sea level rise, and severe weather events; (8) supported clean cars and electric vehicle legislation; and (9) invested in green jobs and clean energy.

From the op-ed:

In today’s world, far too much of our public discourse has degraded to half-truths and personal attacks rather than conversation and compromise. One obvious casualty has been the environment, which is now routinely used as a wedge instead of a common cause. Finding the right balance on environmental policy is important, but we all aspire to achieve the same goals — protecting and preserving the natural world we inhabit for our children and grandchildren.

Hogan called for finding “common ground” on environmental issues and taking “smart and balanced actions” to further environmental protection and promote economic growth.

 

Op-Ed Urges Strong New RGGI Carbon Reductions

In a Maryland Reporter op-ed (2017-08-09), Standard Solar Chief Development Officer Tony Clifford advocated for Maryland’s continued participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the multi-state agreement that set caps on carbon emissions from power plants and established the first carbon trading market in the United States. In the op-ed, Clifford argued that as the RGGI agreement is being revised, Maryland Governor Lawrence “Larry” Hogan should support the strongest carbon percentage reduction under consideration – a 3% reduction per year including an extra boost at the start.

In support of his position, Clifford cited:  (1) the more than 40% carbon emission reductions already seen in Maryland’s power plants; (2) the additional carbon reductions and over $700 million in auction revenues the 3% proposal would generate for Maryland; (3) Marylander support for even stronger RGGI reductions than what is being considered according to a 2016 Sierra Club Poll; (4) the additional jobs, revenue, health benefits, and energy cost savings the 3% proposal would generate for Maryland based on current RGGI performance; and (5) the role RGGI plays in addressing climate change. From the op-ed:

Recent history suggests Gov. Hogan should be open to strengthening the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. In 2016, the governor signed bipartisan legislation establishing an ambitious 2030 greenhouse gas emissions reduction target for our state. This was a big win for Maryland, but to achieve that target we also need to strengthen RGGI.

By leading boldly on RGGI and pushing for the strongest possible emissions reductions, the governor can protect Maryland’s citizens, economy, and natural resources while securing major benefits for Maryland families and businesses.

Here is some basic background on RGGI from RGGI’s own website:

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is the first mandatory market-based program in the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. RGGI is a cooperative effort among the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont to cap and reduce CO2 emissions from the power sector.

Following a comprehensive 2012 Program Review, the RGGI states implemented a new 2014 RGGI cap of 91 million short tons. The RGGI CO2 cap then declines 2.5 percent each year from 2015 to 2020. The RGGI CO2 cap represents a regional budget for CO2 emissions from the power sector. See Program Overview for more information.

States sell nearly all emission allowances through auctions and invest proceeds in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and other consumer benefit programs. These programs are spurring innovation in the clean energy economy and creating green jobs in the RGGI states.

Useful Links

RGGI Website

Sierra Club News Release on RGGI Poll (2016-08-11)

Baltimore Invests $1.6 Billion In Sewer Infrastructure Upgrades

Baltimore plans to  invest $1.6 billion over the next 13 years to improve the city’s sewer system. The city’s Board of Estimates on Wednesday approved a new consent decree with the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice, resetting the city’s effort to reduce waste running through the system to the Inner Harbor and the Chesapeake Bay.

From the Baltimore Business Journal:

Phase I, which is scheduled to be completed by Jan. 1, 2021, will include upgrades and repairs to the Back River Waste Water Treatment Plant, which is supposed to reduce the amount of sewage that leaks out into the Back River near Essex. Phase II, scheduled to be completed by Dec. 31, 2030, includes upgrades to the city’s hydraulic systems in the sewers to ensure that it can operate at capacity.

Currently, the sewage system is over capacity, which can lead to runoff in the Inner Harbor and the Jones Falls, and eventually, the Chesapeake Bay. Blue Water Baltimore, a local advocacy group working to cleaning up the city’s waterways, estimated that 12 million gallons of sewage were discharged into the Jones Falls and Inner Harbor during a storm in February.

Second Annual “Keeping History Above Water” Conference Coming to Annapolis

Register today for the second annual “Keeping History Above Water” Conference, October 29- November 1, 2017, in Annapolis, Maryland. The conference, hosted and organized by the Newport Restoration Foundation and City of Annapolis Weather It Together team, will feature expert speakers and a vendor exhibit area to showcase products, services, and resources to address rising tides. APA credits are available to registered attendees!

Guest speakers include:

Dr. William Sweet, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

James B. Balocki, United States Navy

Phil Dyke, UK National Trust

Jeff Goodell, Author of “The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Reshaping of the Civilized World,” and Contributing Editor, Rolling Stone

Jaap Van Der Salm, H+N+S Landscape Architects, The Netherlands

Kate Gordon, Paulson Institute

Dr. David Guggenheim, Ocean Doctor

Marcus Moench, Institute for Social and Environmental Transition International

Visit the event website to see the full day-by-day schedule and a full list of speakers.

Hogan Seeks Bids For Conowingo Dam Test Dredging

A Baltimore Sun article (2017-08-08) reported that Maryland Governor Lawrence “Larry” Hogan announced plans for a dredging test project for the Conowingo Dam and has requested bids from private companies. The test project is expected to be completed this winter and would determine whether further dredging would be cost effective. The article said that Maryland would pay for the project. According to the article, there is an estimated 31 million cubic yards of sediment behind the dam and dredging would cost $3 billion based on a United States Army Corps of Engineers analysis. Maryland Environmental Service CEO Roy McGrath indicated the bid requests are based on 25,000 cubic yards of dredging. From the article:

The area behind the dam has filled up with sediment and is unable to trap more. Hogan said he worries that one big storm could wipe out recent improvements in the Chesapeake Bay’s health.

“It is absolutely vital that we find real solutions for the problem,” Hogan said at a news conference on the banks of the Susquehanna, in front of the dam.

The article also noted mixed reactions from environmental groups, with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) noting that dredging only addresses sediment pollution and not nitrogen pollution. CBF Executive Director Alison Prost argued that eliminating the sources of pollution was more cost-effective than dredging the dam. However, Chesapeake Bay Commission Executive Director Ann Swanson noted the test project could provide useful data on addressing the Susquehanna River and Conowingo Dam situation.

A Washington Post article (2017-08-08) noted that the test project would cost Maryland about $4 million and that the State would seek to split any future dredging costs with other stakeholders:

Benjamin H. Grumbles, the state’s secretary of the environment, said the test project would cost the state about $4 million. The state will issue a request for proposals Aug. 31 and award a contract this fall, with the dredge operation starting before spring. …

Grumbles said that the state will pay for the test project but that the administration plans to discuss cost-sharing options with other states, the federal government and private partners for a potential larger-scale operation in the future.

Useful Links

Additional Coverage by the Daily Record (2017-08-08)

Prior Conduit Street Coverage of Conowingo Dam Issue

 

 

Hogan Hosting Second Conowingo Dam Summit

A Bay Journal article (2017-08-08) discussed Maryland Governor Lawrence “Larry” Hogan’s second Conowingo Dam summit, which is set to convene on August 8 in Darlington, MD. According to the article, the summit is by invitation only and will be closed to the press, although Hogan plans to hold a press conference after the conclusion of the summit. From the article:

Local officials from rural Maryland counties have complained that they’re being forced to go along with other pollution reduction measures, such as a clampdown on septic-based development, that are far less effective in comparison to the impact that might come from dealing with the buildup behind the dam.  Those complaints have resonated with Hogan….

Hogan, however, has maintained that the dam is a neglected source of the Bay’s water quality woes. And in his newly assumed position as chairman of the Bay Program’s Executive Council, he has leverage to highlight the issue. He has indicated that he holds Exelon Corp., owner of the hydroelectric dam, the federal government and the upriver states of Pennsylvania and New York responsible for the continuing flow of sediment and nutrients down the river.

The article reiterated that after Hogan’s first Conowingo summit last year, the State issued a request for information seeking solutions to the pollution caused by Dam and received at least 11 responses. The article also noted that representatives from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection would be attending the summit.

Useful Links

Prior Conduit Street Coverage of the Conowingo Dam

Chesapeake Executive Council Webpage

Discover how the Conowingo Dam will factor into the upcoming Phase III Watershed Implementation Plans and the potential responsibilities on Maryland’s counties at the What Will We See in Phase III? A Bay TMDL Update discussion at the 2017 MACo Summer Conference.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference: