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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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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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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Senate Consents to the Appointment of McCord as Secretary of Planning
Picture courtesy of the Maryland Planning Blog
Senate Consents to the Appointment of McCord as Secretary of Planning

On Friday, February 1 the Senate consented to the appointment of Robert McCord, Esq. as the Maryland Secretary of Planning. This Executive Nomination appointment serves at the pleasure of the Governor. McCord spent many years in county government. He first served as Deputy County Attorney for 5 years before being appointed as Harford County Attorney in 2004, where he served for 10 years. During his time as a county attorney, McCord was President of the MACo…

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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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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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Baltimore County Solar Moratorium Bill Withdrawn

A Baltimore Sun article (2019-01-22) reported that Baltimore County Council Member Wade Kach has withdrawn a proposed bill that would have imposed a nine-month moratorium on solar projects on rural land. In the article, Kach stated that he felt a moratorium was appropriate to allow the study how large-scale solar projects affected farmland and property values. The article noted many of the proposed large-scale solar projects in Baltimore County would be located in Kach's rural district. However,…

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U.S. Representative Introduces Bill to Overturn FCC Small Cell Order

California Representative Anna G. Eshoo has introduced the Accelerating Wireless Broadband Development by Empowering Local Communities Act of 2019 to overturn the FCC small cell order and restore local control in deployment of 5G. “Having served in local government for a decade on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, I understand and respect the important role that state and local governments play in protecting the welfare of their residents,” said Rep. Eshoo. “5G is essential for our country’s…

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FCC Small Cell Order Goes into Effect; Challenges Continue

On January 14th the FCC's controversial small cell order  went into effect. The order restricts local governments' authority over the deployment of small cells within the local rights of way in several ways including imposing timelines on permit approvals and caps on fees. An article from BB&K Law provides an update on the status of local government requests for a stay on the order and explains what the order going into effect means for cities and…

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