MDE Hosts Maryland Food Recovery Summit

Several hundred stakeholders attended the Maryland Food Recovery Summit on November 30. The Summit was hosted by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and focused on preventing food waste, diverting unused food to needy people, and food recycling options. MACo Legal and Policy Counsel Les Knapp was among the local government attendees. maryland-food-recovery-summit-1

From an MDE Media Advisory (2016-11-29) about the event:

More than 200 stakeholders – including representatives from local, state and federal governments, non-profits, the retail food industry, local schools, hospitals and environmental groups – have registered to attend the Maryland Food Recovery Summit on Wednesday.  Maryland’s first Food Recovery Summit will bring together a diverse group of stakeholders for information, discussion, networking, and goal-setting with the aim of increasing food recovery in Maryland. The program begins with a plenary session followed by presentations on topics such as Preventing Wasted Food through Source Reduction and Feeding People and Food Recycling Options. During the latter half of the afternoon attendees will split into working groups covering topics of food recycling infrastructure, source reduction and donation, and food recovery outreach. The program concludes with report outs from the workgroups and the creation of a roadmap to the next steps for food recovery and donation in Maryland.

Who

  • Secretary Ben Grumbles, Maryland Department of the Environment (Welcoming remarks)
  • Hilary Miller, Director, Land Management Administration, Maryland Department of the Environment
  • Cheryl Coleman, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Christina Rice, Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic
  • Carrie Burns, Johns Hopkins University  Center for a Livable Future
  • Maria Rose Belding, MEANS Database
  • Terry McGowan, Giant Food
  • Margaret Brown, Natural Resources Defense Council
  • Evan Lutz, Hungry Harvest
  • Butch Langenfelder, Maryland Food Bank
  • Anna Lourie, Sodexo
  • Cheryl Kollin, Community Food Rescue
  • Craig  Coker, Coker Consulting
  • Isabella Lee, St. Mary’s College of Maryland
  • Patrick Serfass, American Biogas Council
  • Justen Garrity, Veteran Compost
  • Brenda Platt, Institute for Local Self-Reliance
  • Gemma Evans, Howard County Bureau of Environmental Services

Why
Marylanders produce nearly one million tons of food scraps every year, and most of this material is disposed of in landfills and waste-to-energy facilities. By reducing and recovering excess food we can save money, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help to feed those in need.

Maryland Secretary of the Environment Ben Grumbles made the opening remarks. “We focused on this in part because food scraps make up over 22% of solid waste disposal in the United States,” he explained.

Noting that Maryland recycles over 43% of its municipal solid waste (exceeding the national average) but only recycles about 15% of its food waste, Grumbles stressed that food recovery needs to be part of Maryland’s zero waste policy and climate change strategy.

Useful Links

Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Website – law student driven resource that provides information on increasing access to healthy foods and reducing food waste

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future Maryland Food System Map – multi-data layer map of Maryland’s showing food production, distribution, and need

The Extraordinary Life and Times of Strawberry YouTube Video – short and clever video highlighting food waste

Matching Excess And Need for Stability (MEANS) Database Website – free database to match food donations with food distributors

 

MACo Speaks on Energy Siting, Agritourism Issues

MACo Legal and Policy Counsel Les Knapp discussed energy facility siting issues at the Solar Focus 2016 Conference on November 17 and agritourism issues at the 2016 Agriculture and Environmental Law Annual Conference on November 18.

Solar Focus 2016

Solar Focus 2016 is a conference sponsored by the Maryland/DC/Virginia Solar Energy Industries Association (MDV- SEIA) At the conference, Knapp discussed MACo’s 2017 Legislative Initiative regarding the preemption of local zoning for the siting of “dispersed” energy generation facilities – utility-scale facilities that can be located on farmland or open space. These facilities can include clean energy such as solar and wind, and emergent technologies like gasification and biomass. Knapp stressed the need for county zoning in order to protect prime agricultural lands, historically or culturally important landscapes, and ecologically sensitive areas. He noted that poorly-sited projects could cause significant local disruption and threaten rural economies.

However, Knapp also noted the many benefits of solar projects and stated that counties who wanted to zone for solar would have a responsibility to create viable project sites by taking into account factors important to the industry (grid connections, flat and open land, etc.) Knapp predicted that utility scale solar would play an important role in Maryland’s energy generation going forward and that he believed careful planning now would eliminate problems and unintended consequences later.

Knapp was joined on the panel by Colby Ferguson of the Maryland Farm Bureau, Mike Volpe of Open Road Renewables, and Colin Meehan of First Solar.

2016 Agriculture and Environmental Law Annual Conference

The 2016 Agriculture and Environmental Law Annual Conference is sponsored by the University of Maryland under its Agriculture Law Education Initiative (ALEI). Knapp was part of a panel that included Kevin Atticks of Grow and Fortify and E. Randy Marriner of Manor Hill Brewing. Knapp noted discussed the zoning and use challenges posed by agritourism activities, the collaborative work of the Governor’s Intergovernmental Commission on Agriculture (GICA) to create a model definition for “agricultural enterprise” that includes agritourism activities, and how county planners are continuing to work on the issue.

The Maryland Association of County Planning Officials plans to discuss the issue at its December 2 meeting.

Useful Links

MACo 2017 Legislative Initiatives

MDV-SEIA Website

ALEI Website

The Chesapeake Bay TMDL 2017 Midpoint Assessment Approaches

Maryland gears up for a review to determine if pollution has been reduced by 60% and to help guide the next eight years’ practices.

screenshot-2016-11-29-14-06-22
This map displays the segmentsheds used by the Chesapeake Bay Program. A segmentshed is the discrete land area that drains into each of the 92 Bay Program segments that have TMDLs associated with them. Image courtesy of Chesapeake Bay Program.

One measure used to assess environmental practices affecting the Chesapeake Bay is the amount of nutrient and sediments flowing into the water.

Maryland established goals for total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) in 2010 that are now coming up for review. The Chesapeake Bay TMDL 2017 Midpoint Assessment will check progress on reaching a 60% pollution reductions by 2017.

From the Chesapeake Bay Program,

The Chesapeake Bay TMDL 2017 Midpoint Assessment

The December 2010 Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (Bay TMDL) calls for an assessment in 2017 to review our progress toward meeting the nutrient and sediment pollutant load reductions identified in the 2010 Bay TMDL, Phase I and Phase II Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs) and two-year milestones. The driving purpose of the Bay TMDL’s 2017 midpoint assessment is to streamline implementation and to make challenges to implementation more understandable for the Chesapeake Bay Program partnership as we move towards 2017 and 2025.

Recognizing that change is inevitable over a 15-year period in a dynamic environment like the Bay, the Bay TMDL’s 2017 midpoint assessment has three primary objectives:

  1. Gather input from the Partnership on issues and priorities to be addressed in order to help meet the goal of all practices in place by 2025 to meet water quality standards
  2. Based on these priorities, review the latest science, data, tools and BMPs, incorporate as appropriate into the decision-support tools that guide implementation, and consider lessons learned
  3. Help jurisdictions prepare Phase III WIPs, which will guide milestones and implementation from 2018 to 2025

For comprehensive information on the midpoint assessment, including priorities, schedule, and other supporting documentation, visit the Chesapeake Bay Program’s website: https://mpa.chesapeakebay.net/Phase6DataVisualization.html and contact Lucinda Power with the Environmental Protection Agency.

County Elected Officials to Hold Round Table on Stormwater Goals and Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load Requirements

At this winter’s MACo Conference, MACo is hosting a peer-to-peer exchange of county elected officials from across the State tackling issues that counties face. Based on feedback from the county community, we’ve selected stormwater goals and Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load  (TMDL) requirements as the topic for this year’s Roundtable.

DETAILS:

Bay Watershed Cleanup: What’s Happening? What’s Ahead?

Who: County Elected Officials

When: Wednesday, December 7, 2016, noon-1 pm

What: Join a post-election discussion of county environmental goals and requirements –including the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) and Environmental Protection Agency stormwater mandates. 2017 not only marks the Bay TMDL midpoint assessment, but also ushers in a new U.S. President in an area driven largely by federal regulation. Share your county’s best practices and current challenges, and hear what changes could be ahead in a roundtable facilitated by the University of Maryland Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology.

Learn more about MACo’s Winter Conference:

Questions? Contact Meetings & Events Director Virginia White.

Fun Fact: Did You Know that Heart-Shaped Dorchester County is the Largest County in Maryland?

Question: Did you know that heart-shaped Dorchester County is the largest county in Maryland?

It’s true! Dorchester County is the largest county in Maryland — when its water area is included; otherwise it’s the fourth largest. The shape of Dorchester actually resembles a heart and it is located at the mid-point of the Chesapeake therefore it is often referred to as “Heart of the Chesapeake.” It consists of 688 square miles with over 122,000 acres of wetlands—40 percent of the entire state’s wetlands. These wetlands are scenic and an integral part of the food chain for the Chesapeake Bay. The wetlands and adjoining upland areas contain both protected federal and state reserves for the nature enthusiast, as well as hunting areas for the sportsman. Deer, Canada geese, black ducks, mallards, and diving ducks are favorites among hunters.

dorchesterSource: Visit Dorchester’s website

Do you have a fun fact to share about your county? If so, please send it to Kaley Schultze to be featured in MACo’s weekly Fun Fact on Conduit Street.

Join us in Dorchester County December 7-9, 2016 at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Resort in Cambridge for MACo’s Winter Conference: An Ounce of Prevention.

 

Learn more about MACo’s Winter Conference:

MEA’s Community Wind Webinar – December 8

The Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) will host a Community Wind Webinar on Thursday, December 8 from 2 p.m. until 3 p.m.

The Maryland Energy Administration’s (MEA) wind energy program focuses on three categories of deployments: residential, community and commercial scale projects. Through its various Windswept Grant Programs, educational outreach, and Anemometer Loan Program, MEA provides support to Maryland residents, businesses, government entities and non-profits wishing to install wind energy systems.

Speakers include:

  • Samuel Beirne – Maryland Energy Administration, Wind Energy Program Manager
  • David Murrin – Alpha Energy, LLC, Chairman and Community Wind Gamechanger Contract Manager
  • Rebecca Rush – Community Wind Gamechanger, Contract Outreach Coordinator

You will learn about community wind basics including, size, location, best resources, and the guidance when planning your community wind project. In addition, you will learn about community wind economics, financing mechanisms, and grant programs provided by MEA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other sources.

Click here to register. For more information, contact Samuel Beirne at wind.mea@maryland.gov or 410-537-4000.

Howard County Business Group Offers Stormwater Fee Recommendations

A Baltimore Sun article (2016-11-15) reported that a local Howard County business group has offered recommendations on how to address the County’s stormwater management requirements under its Phase 1 Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit, including restructuring the county’s stormwater remediation fee. Like other MS4 jurisdictions, Howard has struggled to meet the permit’s 20 percent remediation requirement for existing impervious surfaces. According to the article, the group was created through executive order by County Executive Allan Kittleman with the support of Council Member Jon Weinstein. From the article:

Local businesses, many of whom have long decried stormwater fees as unfair and asymmetric, are pushing the county to craft financial incentives to motivate commercial property owners to manage stormwater runoff in the county. …

“Businesses don’t have any reason to do it other than their conscience,” said Mark Southerland, chairman of the [Howard County Commercial Stormwater Solutions Work Group]. …

The group recommended incentives like reducing or eliminating stormwater fees, waive parking space requirements and placing the financial burden of projects on the county.

The County’s plight is challenging because many stormwater remediation projects must be done on private property in order to meet the 2,000 acre treatment requirement by 2019:

Most of the projects, nearly 70 percent, are on private property where owners grant limited access and have little to no reason to set aside valuable land for stormwater management. …

“If we did everything we could possible do on the land the county own, we would still the need private sector’s help. We really haven’t figured out a way to work them,” said Jim Caldwell, director of the county’s Office of Community Sustainability. …

But waiving stormwater fees is not enough to cover the cost of stormwater projects, Caldwell said.

The significant project costs and competition for a limited pool of contractors adds further difficulty:

Caldwell said state regulators must realize the challenge before local jurisdictions, who are competing to meet goals of individual projects that can cost around $200,000.

“Between the cost of it and the competition between other counties, you run out of contractors, you run out of steel, the cost gets higher,” Caldwell said. “What we’re basically saying is that we want to get there, but the challenge is overwhelmingly difficult.”

Useful Links

Howard County Commercial Stormwater Solutions Work Group Report

Charles County Considers New Development Limits

A BayNet article (2016-11-17) reported on a proposal to create a new Watershed Conservation District (WCD) along the Mattawoman Creek watershed and the headwaters of the Port Tobacco River in Charles County. The proposed change follows the adoption of the County’s 2016 Comprehensive Plan and would limit development potential in the affected area. Charles County Planning Director Steve Ball briefed the County’s Planning Commission on the proposed WCD. From the article:

“The idea is to guide development away from natural areas,” Ball said. The resolution will allow agriculture, horticulture and open air markets. Residential will be limited to single family homes, one unit per 20 acres.

“There are also specific regulations within the WCD, proposed text which would place limitations on impervious surfaces,” Ball added.

The area under consideration encompasses some 20 different zoning districts and includes a total of 36,679.61 acres.

“About half of the properties would no longer be zoned rural conservation deferred,” Ball explained. “That covers all of the watershed of the Mattawoman and headwaters of the Port Tobacco River.”

The article also stated that the county commissioners will vote on the proposed changes in March of 2017 and a public hearing on the proposal will be held at the planning commission’s November 28 meeting.

Useful Links

Prior Conduit Street Coverage of Charles County’s Comprehensive Plan

Pennsylvania Needs Additional Funding for Bay TMDL Efforts

As previously reported on Conduit Street, Pennsylvania and the federal government have pledged to commit $28 million to help funding the commonwealth’s lagging Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) efforts. However, a Bay Journal article  (2016-11-06) reported that more funding is needed in order for the commonwealth to achieve its goals. Nutrient and sediment runoff – primarily from agriculture – comes down the Susquehanna River and through the Conowingo Dam, complicating Maryland’s Bay TMDL restoration efforts. From the article:

But much more [than the $28 million in funding] will be needed. For instance, [Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s] administration said it will put almost $2.5 million more into planting “riparian forest buffers,” streamside trees that soak up nutrients and prevent runoff. Yet the state is projected to need $170 million for that effort over the next decade to reach its goal of planting 95,000 acres of buffers by the 2025 cleanup deadline. …

State Sen. Gene Yaw, a Republican from Lycoming County and chairman of the Senate Environmental Committee, noted that almost 70 percent of the remaining nitrogen reductions for the entire six-state Bay watershed need to come from Pennsylvania. And 80 percent of those reductions have to come from the farming sector, he said. The state is also lagging badly on dealing with stormwater pollution, according to EPA modeling.

“We’ve accomplished a lot, but we have a lot more to do,” said Patrick McDonnell, acting DEP secretary. Under the Bay diet, Pennsylvania needs to reduce its nitrogen pollution by 17 million pounds by next year. But the state is so far behind that that’s not going to happen, he said, and it needs to reduce a total of 34 million pounds by 2025. …

“I think we need to start looking at sustainable funding,” said Sen. Judith L. Schwank, a Democrat from Berks County….

The article described several potential funding sources that Pennsylvania lawmakers are considering:

A bipartisan group of lawmakers recently introduced new “Growing Greener” legislation aimed at investing $315 million a year in measures to protect Pennsylvania’s water, land and natural resources. But the measure doesn’t specify where those funds would come from.

Several lawmakers of both parties support legislation that would raise funds to clean up state waterways by establishing a water withdrawal fee on businesses. As introduced, the measure could raise an estimated $245 million a year, with more than $90 million likely to go to projects in the Bay watershed.

The article also noted concerns from Pennsylvania farmers about whether they can afford conservation efforts, even with financial assistance from the commonwealth and federal government.

Useful Links

Prior Conduit Street Coverage of Pennsylvania TMDL Issues

Join a post-election discussion of county environmental requirements including the Bay TMDL and Environmental Protection Agency stormwater mandates at the 2016 MACo Winter Conference.Share your county’s current challenges and hear what changes could be ahead in a roundtable facilitated by the University of Maryland Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology.

Learn more about MACo’s Winter Conference:

 

Lessons Learned on Nutrient Credit Trading at #MACoCon

Nutrient credit trading is coming and will provide counties with a useful but complicated tool to help them meet their water quality goals. Hear from Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) representatives on lessons learned from several county pilot programs at the 2016 MACo Winter Conference.

Special Session: CBF – County Nutrient Trading Pilot Program

Description

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) and the World Resources Institute have been working with Montgomery and Queen Anne’s Counties in Maryland and Arlington County in Virginia to facilitate nutrient credit trading and help those counties meet their water pollution reduction targets. As Maryland finalizes its own nutrient credit trading policy for both point and non-point sources, hear about the lessons learned from these pilot program efforts.

Speaker

  • Erik Fisher, Maryland Land Use Planner, Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Date & Time: Thursday, December 8, 2016; 1:15 pm – 1:45 pm

Learn more about MACo’s Winter Conference:

MDE Releases Fracking Regulations

The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) has released its proposed natural gas hydraulic fracturing (commonly known as “fracking”) regulations. The regulations will govern exploration, production, and underground injection control related to fracking. Fracking is primarily a concern in Western Maryland along the Marcellus Shale deposit. There are several other shale deposits in Maryland where fracking could theoretically occur but existing economic and technological considerations make that unlikely.

According to MDE’s Marcellus Shale webpage:

On Monday, September 26, 2016, Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE or “the Department”) submitted a regulatory action to the Administrative, Executive, and Legislative Review (AELR) Committee. The purpose of the action is to update the regulations governing the exploration and production of oil and gas to address technologies that were not typically employed in Maryland when the existing regulations were adopted, including hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. The draft regulations will ensure that any exploration and production of oil and gas is conducted in a manner protective of public health, safety, the environment, and natural resources. Following AELR Committee review, the regulatory proposal will be published in the Maryland Register and be open for public comment for 30 days.

The website also lists these three resources:

The regulations are expected to appear in the November 14 edition of the Maryland Register.