EPA Rule Change Limits States’ Ability to Block Pipeline Approvals

Citing unnecessary delays, EPA issues new rule that weakens states' role in pipeline project approvals. Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its final rule that constrains the influence states have over pipeline approvals. The rule change targets the way states use section 401 of the federal Clean Water Act, and the so called "veto power" that states enjoy over the approval of energy infrastructure projects. Previously, states had fairly broad authority to block…

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Tracking COVID-19 Through Wastewater?

States are considering testing wastewater to indicate where coronavirus cases are located, and possibly even predict the next hot spot. The EPA is currently conducting a pilot research project. With test kits still not at the levels health experts would like, and a belief that there are many COVID-19 positive individuals that remain asymptomatic, environmental agencies are investigating the feasibility of testing wastewater to indicate the number of positive cases in communities. The EPA is…

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Frosh Joins Coalition Challenging Rollback to National Clean Car Standards

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh is joining a lawsuit that challenges the Trump administrations rollbacks of national clean car standards. Frosh joins 23 other attorneys general and several other stakeholders in filing a lawsuit that challenges the vehicle fuel efficiency rollbacks issued earlier this year. When the Trump administration unveiled the anticipated rollbacks, Frosh remarked that the change "threatens the health of millions of Americans and will cause irreparable damage to our environment." At the…

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Calvert Releases Flood Mitigation Plan Progress Report

Calvert County recently released the latest version of their annual flood mitigation plan progress report. Calvert County's Flood Mitigation Plan was prepared by a steering committee and first approved in 2011 by the county's planning commission and subsequently the Board of County Commissioners. Since then, updates have been presented through the annual progress report. The report discusses steps the county has taken to prevent flooding and outlines mitigation goals. The report notes that a plan…

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Harford Furthers Environmental Stewardship by Building Rain Garden

Harford County has finished work on an environmentally-friendly rain garden. The project comes as part of the county's first Green Infrastructure Plan. Harford County recently completed a rain garden in partnership with the Town of Bel Air, Bel Air Farmers' Market, Harford Count Master Gardeners, and local businesses. Rain gardens are unpaved surface areas that sit lower into the earth, allowing for higher water retention. Rain gardens are popular as an environmentally friendly way to…

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Cecil Opens State-of-the-Art Wastewater Treatment Plant

The water quality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed got a little bit better last week when Cecil County’s new Enhanced Nutrient Removal (ENR) wastewater treatment plant was officially placed into service. The new facility, which serves the Harbourview area of the County, replaces one that had been in service since the 1980s. “The previous treatment plant served the Harbourview community for many decades, but it has needed to be replaced for some time now,” said…

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EPA Seeks Comments on Draft Water Quality Criteria

EPA is asking for public comments on recently released water quality criteria recommendations for nutrients in lakes and reservoirs. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently issued updated draft ambient water quality criteria recommendations for nutrients in lakes and reservoirs, and is seeking public comments.  EPA's criteria is non-binding, and acts as a resource for government agencies that work to mitigate the effects that excess nutrients have on water quality. The last approved criteria was…

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Montgomery Issues Electric Vehicle Residential Charging Guidelines

Montgomery County is making it easier to charge electric vehicles in residential areas. Montgomery County’s Department of Permitting Services (DPS) and the Department of Transportation (MCDOT) collaborated to develop guidelines that allow for permitting and installation of privately owned EV charging stations in garages, driveways and in the public right of way adjacent to County streets. Level 2 EV chargers allow for significantly faster charging, and in some cases allow users to schedule charging times…

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EPA Launches Food Waste Management Grants

Federal grants of up to $300,000 are available to local governments for projects to reduce food loss and divert food waste from landfills. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is seeking grant applications for projects that expand anerobic digester capacity. Keeping organic materials out of landfills by diverting food waste to anaerobic digestion has several benefits including a prevention of excess methane and carbon dioxide emissions, and reducing nutrient loss. EPA anticipates awarding up to…

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State Soil Conservation Committee to Meet May 21

The State Soil Conservation Committee will meet Thursday, May 21 at 9:30 a.m. via conference call. The State Soil Conservation Committee provides guidance to the Maryland Department of Agriculture on issues such as soil conservation and water quality policy. The Committee is made up of members from various state departments and regional representatives. The Committee's upcoming meeting is open to the public and will focus on soil conservation and water quality program implementation and policy…

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