Environmental panel to feature Myersville resident

Frederick News Post
11/17/2013
Myersville resident Ann Nau will be one of several panelists with Chesapeake Climate Action Network’s nine-stop tour across Maryland, including Hood College on Monday. The panelists will address pipeline infrastructure, such as the proposed Myersville compressor station. Nau is vice president of Myersville Citizens for a Rural Community, a grass roots group organized to keep Dominion Transmission Inc. from building a gas compressor station in the small west Frederick County town. Nau has argued that DTI's proposed 16,000-horsepower compressor station is less than one mile from the Myersville Elementary School and would emit 23.5 tons of nitrogen oxide per year, risking lives. The panelists are protesting a new network of infrastructure — pipelines and compressor stations — to transport natural gas from fracking operations to Cove Point that will shipped to overseas markets. Large “energy companies benefit when communities like ours don't connect the dots between their plans and our health,” Nau said in a recent letter to the editor. “In the case of Dominion's $3.8 billion plan to liquefy and export natural gas from its Cove Point facility on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay, you can bet they hope Frederick County residents don't (connect the dots), because we could pay a particularly high price,” Nau wrote. A recent MIT study found that Maryland has a higher death rate due to air pollution than any other state, resulting in the premature deaths of 113 out of 100,000 people per year, Nau said. Dominion's plan — to pipe across Maryland, liquefy and export nearly 1 billion cubic feet of gas from Cove Point every day — is a great deal for big gas corporations, but a lousy deal for Marylanders, Nau said.

State warns 1 cent storm water fee is "insufficient"

Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
11/03/2013
Frederick County's 1 cent storm water fee could end up costing tens of thousands of dollars in fines, state environmental officials recently warned. A Maryland Department of the Environment review determined the county's fee would be "insufficient" to pay for the water cleanup efforts required by a state-enforced permit. The fee of 1 cent per eligible property is estimated to raise $487 annually for county water programs. "We believe that this level of funding will be insufficient to support the people, programs and projects that will be necessary for the county to meet its obligations under the Watershed Implementation Plan and the new MS4 permit that we expect to issue to your county next month," stated an Oct. 25 letter written by Robert Summers, the state's environmental secretary. The county could get slapped with fines of up to $32,500 per day for each violation of its storm water permit, which is in the process of being renewed, the letter continued.

Clean Chesapeake Coalition faces challenges changing minds

Carroll County Times
Timothy Sandoval
09/22/2013
The Clean Chesapeake Coalition, which Carroll County joined last year, includes six other rural counties in Maryland, and attempts to change conventional wisdom on the Chesapeake Bay cleanup and restoration efforts. The coalition advocates for cost-effective policies that will help the bay, pointing out the issues concerning the Conowingo Dam, which they say releases the largest amount of pollution into the bay. They argue the dam should be the priority, downplaying the effectiveness of environmental polices handed down by the state. But some have questioned the effectiveness of such a coalition, including one commissioner in Carroll County. Commissioner Haven Shoemaker, R-District 2, who voted against joining the coalition, said at the time of the vote that he was unsure the state would stop its focus on septic system regulations and other mandates it is looking to impose.

Shades of Green

Saving the Planet Touches Almost Every Area of Frederick County Living, and it Comes with a Price Tag
Frederick Magazine
Linda Norris-Waldt
09/16/2013
Save the Bay. Buy recycled. Reduce your carbon footprint. Conserve water. The list goes on and on. And so does the number of programs and projects that aim to improve Frederick County’s environment— and with them, the debate about where lies the responsibility: Who pays, who is inconvenienced by change, and how much habit-breaking is practical when the returns aren’t immediately evident. A myriad of regulations, public education programs and businesses have brought environmental initiatives to our doors. The new programs, like mandating rain barrels and rain gardens for new subdivisions, roll in with great fanfare like ocean waves, supported by public demand. And then they are either delayed or abridged because of cost, impact or feasibility. A constant rebalancing is always taking place. Kirby Delauter, a Frederick County commissioner whose work in construction takes him into the field where he has direct encounters with environmental regulations, has been no fan of the feasibility of government programs regulating the environment. They have “grown exponentially and for no good reason other than to expand the role of government in our lives,” he says. “Stormwater has been ruled by courts to not be a pollutant, yet we still seem to have governing bodies that can’t let go of the power and control of regulating the lives of personal property owners.” Kai Hagen, a community activist and former county commissioner known for championing environmental causes, has a differing view. “If people knew the real environmental and economic costs and benefits associated with the choices we make—as a community—I’m convinced we would be making a lot more responsible choices than we are now,” he says. Here’s how current environmental programs in Frederick County touch water, land and lives.

Smith's simplistic commentary

Frederick News Post
Jack Lynch
07/08/2013
Recent commentary by Frederick County Commissioner Paul Smith exposes the simplistic political logic of the current Board of County Commissioners and of the statewide Chesapeake Coalition. At its base, it rejects firm science and portrays the problem as an out-of-state boogeyman to deflect attention from our real-life issues and responsibility for cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay. The citizens of Frederick County, and of Maryland, deserve better from our local elected leaders. As one dedicated over many years towards the careful practice of environmental stewardship and water quality while respecting history and economics and sustainability, I demand better deliberation, thought and action in these responsibilities from us all.

Smith’s simplistic commentary

Frederick News Post
Jack Lynch
07/08/2013
Recent commentary by Frederick County Commissioner Paul Smith exposes the simplistic political logic of the current Board of County Commissioners and of the statewide Chesapeake Coalition. At its base, it rejects firm science and portrays the problem as an out-of-state boogeyman to deflect attention from our real-life issues and responsibility for cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay. The citizens of Frederick County, and of Maryland, deserve better from our local elected leaders. As one dedicated over many years towards the careful practice of environmental stewardship and water quality while respecting history and economics and sustainability, I demand better deliberation, thought and action in these responsibilities from us all.

County allocates $25,000 to challenge cleanup plan

Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
06/14/2013
Frederick County will contribute another $25,000 to a partnership that is challenging a plan to clean up the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The money comes from the county's fiscal 2013 budget and will help pay for the Clean Chesapeake Coalition's legal counsel and public outreach about the expenses of following a state-prescribed pollution diet.

County needs ‘rain tax’ Plan B

Frederick News Post
06/07/2013
In any case, this is not the end of the debate. Lawmakers failed at the end of this year’s session to modify the tax and said it’ll be back in 2014. But don’t expect it to be friendlier to taxpayers on the whole — delegates and senators don’t seem as worried about individual constituents as they do about large businesses and nonprofits (e.g., churches). While the state has largely left it up to each jurisdiction to craft the fee structure as they see fit, there’s nothing to prevent state lawmakers from imposing this tax on the county, especially if egged on by the environmental lobby, which has the state’s Democratic majority by the, ahem, ear.The commissioners have set us up for a David vs. Goliath showdown, only it’s less likely we’ll get off that one, lucky shot. Trusting the Maryland General Assembly for a solution is a bad gamble.

County needs 'rain tax' Plan B

Frederick News Post
06/07/2013
In any case, this is not the end of the debate. Lawmakers failed at the end of this year’s session to modify the tax and said it’ll be back in 2014. But don’t expect it to be friendlier to taxpayers on the whole — delegates and senators don’t seem as worried about individual constituents as they do about large businesses and nonprofits (e.g., churches). While the state has largely left it up to each jurisdiction to craft the fee structure as they see fit, there’s nothing to prevent state lawmakers from imposing this tax on the county, especially if egged on by the environmental lobby, which has the state’s Democratic majority by the, ahem, ear.The commissioners have set us up for a David vs. Goliath showdown, only it’s less likely we’ll get off that one, lucky shot. Trusting the Maryland General Assembly for a solution is a bad gamble.

Frederick County levies 1-cent storm-water fee

Local officials protest state-mandated pollution control law
Baltimore Sun
Tim Wheeler
05/31/2013
Unhappy over a state law requiring property owners to pay a new fee to help clean up the Chesapeake Bay, Frederick County officials have decided to set the charge at just a penny a year. The county's board of commissioners approved the 1-cent storm-water pollution control fee on Thursday, declaring they were doing even that only to avoid possible state restrictions on new development in the county if they didn't act.

Maryland delays growth pollution rules

Regulators need more time to set "offsets" for new development
Baltimore Sun
Tim Wheeler
11/29/2012
State rules requiring "offsets" for water pollution from new development have been delayed until next year, Maryland's top environmental regulator told lawmakers Wednesday. Although the regulations originally had been set for issuance by next month, Environment Secretary Robert M. Summers told members of House and Senate environment committees that there are "more details to be sorted out," mainly over a plan to let developers buy pollution "credits" elsewhere or pay a fee to the state for the costs of offsetting their projects' water-quality impacts. The growth-offset regulations are required under the Chesapeake Bay "pollution diet" that the Environmental Protection Agency has imposed on Maryland and the five other states in the bay watershed. A new state lawaimed at limiting development on septic systems also mandates pollution offsets for any large housing subdivision that would not be connected to a sewer system. Summers explained that offsets are needed to ensure that population growth and development don't undermine the states' efforts to reduce nutrient and sediment pollution fouling the bay.

Opposition threatens Chesapeake Bay cleanup plan

Washington Post
Darryl Fears
11/11/2012
The embattled Chesapeake Bay cleanup plan is being hit by opponents from both the left and right. A pair of liberal watchdog groups struck it with a lawsuit last month seeking to erase one of the plan’s key programs — nutrient trading. They support the overall cleanup plan but call nutrient trading a “pay to pollute” program that departs from the spirit of the Clean Water Act, enacted 40 years ago this fall.

New pollution rules would restrict rural development in Washington Co.

Hagerstown Herald Mail
Andrew Schotz
08/28/2012
The Washington County Board of Commissioners is trying to figure out how and if the county should participate in a new state law on septic systems. The Sustainable Growth and Agricultural Preservation Act of 2012 was passed to try to keep pollution from the Chesapeake Bay through tighter land controls. The centerpiece is a four-tier system with different restrictions on sewer and septic use depending on the land.

Farms conservation highlighted

Frederick News Post
07/02/2012
The farming industry has been in the spotlight recently because of renewed efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, Morrow said. "Farms are the largest source of nutrient pollution to the Bay, and farms have a responsibility to ensure that nutrients remain on the farm and not enter local waterways."

Unusual weather worsened Chesapeake Bay’s health

Scientists grade Chesapeake's condition D+ in 2011
Baltimore Sun
Tim Wheeler
04/17/2012
Heavy spring rains, a hot summer and two major storms caused the Chesapeake Bay's overall health to worsen last year, scientists said Tuesday, though there apparently was a slight improvement in the Baltimore area's Patapsco and Back rivers, long considered among the bay's most degraded tributaries.

Unusual weather worsened Chesapeake Bay's health

Scientists grade Chesapeake's condition D+ in 2011
Baltimore Sun
Tim Wheeler
04/17/2012
Heavy spring rains, a hot summer and two major storms caused the Chesapeake Bay's overall health to worsen last year, scientists said Tuesday, though there apparently was a slight improvement in the Baltimore area's Patapsco and Back rivers, long considered among the bay's most degraded tributaries.

Commissioners may join effort against land-use plan

Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
08/24/2011
The Frederick County Commissioners might join forces with leaders in nearby counties to push back against aspects of the Maryland governor's land-use plan, a document they fear could erode local authority if carried out. The drafted plan emerged as one of the hot topics last week at the Maryland Association of Counties conference in Ocean City, where Gov. Martin O'Malley offered county government officials a presentation about the vision for smart growth. While the state has insisted the document, called PlanMaryland, doesn't commandeer county land-use decisions, Commissioners President Blaine Young said he would like to see that spelled out in the draft. "Why won't you include the language that it (the plan) is not going to be mandated and dictated from the top down?" Young said. The idea of a partnership of central and western Maryland governments flowed out of a Friday breakfast that included Young and commissioners presidents from Washington, Allegany, Carroll and Garrett counties. Young said the board leaders agreed to go back to their counties and pitch the coalition plan to their fellow commissioners.

Bulldozer Blaine Young

The Frederick Citizen
Jack Lynch
07/07/2011
here he goes again! Fresh off the deregulation of builder’s codes and requirements across the board, and after launching a proposal to gut county employees with a ham handed privatization scheme, our good old boy “Bulldozer” Blaine Young has released his latest diatribe aimed at the heart of Bay cleanup plans from the state. First, a bit of background on septic growth from the Maryland Department of Planning (MDP): “Maryland has about 430,000 septic systems on developed parcels; 420,000 of them are on residential parcels.