National Trend: Green Education in Classrooms

Throughout the nation, states are developing “environmental literacy plans” to help improve student understanding of the environment and the impact humans have on it.  Legislation introduced by Rep. John Sarbanes and Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed in the last two Congressional sessions and likely to be introduced again this Congress would provide $100 million in annual funding to states for environmental education.  Governing Magazine provides a snapshot of green education efforts :

States promoting environmental education emphasize the need to get students out of the classroom. In Maryland, for example, students visit the Chesapeake Bay to measure the water’s salinity and examine the health of its organisms. “Getting their hands dirty has the greatest impact,”Sarbanes says. “It just gets them excited and engaged.” Sarbanes and other advocates say that student excitement spills over into other areas of academics and helps kids perform better across the board.

Maine, Maryland and Oregon have completed their environmental literacy plans, and another four states will soon, Day says. The policies can be adopted in a variety of ways. Oregon’s, for example, was mandated by the state Legislature. Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley ordered his state’s plan, and Maine’s plan was developed administratively. The plans don’t focus on detailed curriculum requirements. Instead, they provide broad themes the states should cover. Oregon’s plan, for example, discusses the need for students to “understand the physical and biological world, and our interdependent relationship with it.”

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MACo Opposes Broad Ban on Septic Development

A MACo panel testified in opposition to House Bill 1107 and Senate Bill 846, before the House Environmental Matters Committee and the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee on March 11.  The bills, sponsored by Delegate Steve Lafferty and Senator Paul Pinsky embody Governor Martin O'Malley's State of the State proposal to ban the use septic systems in major subdivisions.  The bills, entitled the "Sustainable Growth and Agricultural Preservation Act of 2011," would prohibit the use of septic systems on…

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Senate Finance Committee Passes Renewable Energy Legislation Supported by MACo

MACo submitted testimony to the Senate Finance Committee on March 8 in support of Senate Bill 690 which would expand the definition of a Tier 1 renewable energy source to include waste-to-energy facilities in the State's Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard.   Currently, waste-to-energy facilities are in a less favorable Tier 2 category.   Tier 1 renewable energy sources include wind, solar power, and geothermal energy.  There are 3 waste-to-energy plants in the State certified as Tier…

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Governor’s Septics Proposal – Heading for Study? Or Showdown?

Today's Baltimore Sun discusses the "roadblock" facing the Governor's proposed limits on septic-based development, as the Chair of the House's Environmental Matters Committee has suggested that the bill be referred for more complete study over the interim. However, contrary to some earlier reports (and the discussion at MACo's Legislative Committee yesterday), it now appears that the Governor will continue to press for the bill's passage in this year's legislative session. From the Sun coverage: Del.…

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NACo Launches Green Government Database

The National Association of Counties (NACo) has launched a Green Government Database as a resource for county officials on successful county sustainability programs, plans, policies and capital projects. Highlighted case studies include those related to county:  sustainability management  energy efficiency  renewable energy generation  green building green jobs economic development  air quality  green fleets  green purchasing local food systems  smart land use  water conservation and waste management Click here to access the database.

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Makeover Montgomery Conference to Address Smart Growth Solutions

Suburban areas throughout the nation are working to find effective means to address population increases, changing housing preferences, and growing infrastructure costs, all while making communities more sustainable. The National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education, the Montgomery County Planning Department, and the Urban Studies and Planning Program at the University of Maryland are co-hosting a two-day conference entitled Makeover Montgomery: Innovative Strategies for Rethinking America's Suburbs Conference. Conference topics include: Planning tools to…

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MACo Corporate Partner Profile: Waste Management

MACo re-introduce Waste Management /Wheelabrator as a returning gold-level partner in our Corporate Partner Program. Waste Management, Inc. is the leading provider of comprehensive waste and environmental services in North America; committed to a foundation of financial strength, operating excellence, and professionalism.  Nationally recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the  U.S. Department of Energy, the corporation actively pursues projects and initiatives that benefit the waste industry, communities, and the environment. The company serves over…

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MACo Opposes Critical Area Home Inspection Legislation

MACo Associate Director Les Knapp was joined by Candace Donoho of the Maryland Municipal League and Critical Area Commission Chair Margaret McHale in opposing HB 278 before the House Environmental Matters Committee on February 17.  The bill, sponsored by Delegate Tony McConkey, would require a local jurisdiction to inspect a lot or parcel that is in the jurisdiction's critical area at the request of a prospective purchaser to determine if a critical area violation exists.  If…

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Local Governments Throughout US Confronting Stormwater Issues

Local governments throughout the United States are dealing with stormwater runoff and its environmental and financial impacts.  The environmental degradation that results from stormwater runoff are evident. As the excess water travels over fertilized lawns and asphalt,oil, metals, pesticides, and other toxic contaminants are picked up.  According to an article in Governing Magazine, About 13 percent of U.S. rivers, 18 percent of lakes and 32 percent of estuaries are classified as impaired by stormwater, which…

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Septics Legislation Introduced, Governor Defends Proposed Policy

At a Monday press event to mark the introduction of the Governor's initiative on septic systems, The Baltimore Sun reports that "The governor said he wanted to end a 'proliferation' of new housing on septic systems." The Sun describes the major bill provisions: The bill would require any housing project of five or more homes to either hook up to a public sewer system or be served by a shared waste treatment system that is…

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