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.

Wasted food

Frederick News Post
06/21/2013
Recycling has become a cornerstone of our lives here in Frederick County. The blue bins that line the streets once every two weeks in front of our homes have become a familiar sight. We’ve come a long way from the 1991 pilot program for 4,000 households that launched recycling in the county. But an article in The New York Times recently made us wonder if we couldn’t go a little bit beyond the plastic bottles, aluminum foil, paper and cardboard that make up most of what we throw in our recycling carts. The Times article reported that following a highly successful pilot program, Mayor Michael Bloomberg will roll out a plan to allow all city residents to recycle food scraps. Residents will be issued containers into which they dump their food waste, and the program, while initially voluntary, is expected to become mandatory. According to the Times, food waste and organic materials account for about a third of the city’s trash. If diverted from the three landfills to which waste is trucked at the cost of $80 a ton, the city could save $100 million a year. Initially, the program will handle 100,000 tons of food scraps that will be sent to a hired composting plant. The program is expected to be so successful, the administration will seek proposals to build its own processing plant to transform the waste into biogas, which would be burned to generate electricity, according to the Times. If you’re thinking New York is a long way from Frederick County, you’re correct. But a similar program is in place closer to home in Howard County, which is set to expand a food-waste recycling pilot program initiated more than a year ago.

Grand Canyon makes erosion look good, Shreve says

Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
06/21/2013
Consider erosion, says Commissioner Billy Shreve. Is it a thing to be feared? Battled? Buffered against? Or enjoyed? During Thursday’s board meeting, Frederick County leaders discussed Chesapeake Bay health and a recent county study of local streams. Though the report found erosion was an issue in many county waterways, Shreve said he’s not sure how problematic the process is. “We have this report in Frederick County. It talks about the restoration of streams, and how we can’t allow streambeds to erode, and all that stuff. Yet, we celebrate one of the greatest erosions in the history of mankind, and it’s one of the seven natural wonders of the world: the Grand Canyon,” he said. “It’s the biggest, worst case of erosion ever. So ... I don’t know which way to go on that.” Commissioner Paul Smith followed Shreve’s logic to provide a vision of the Eastern Shore millions of years in the future. “The bay has a future as a grand canyon?” Smith said, laughing

Stream study yields important information

Frederick News Post
06/20/2013
rederick County recently released the findings of an important study on the health and vitality of its many streams. The survey provides detailed information on the water quality, physical condition and biological activity in the county’s smaller waterways. Two hundred specific sites were sampled for the study. While the news is somewhat mixed, there is plenty of cause for concern. More than half of the county’s stream miles had banks that were either moderately or severely eroded. Nearly 20 percent had badly degraded habitats where aquatic creatures should be found in abundance; 11 of 20 watershed areas in the study received a poor rating for insect life, an important indicator of stream health. As could have been predicted, streams in agricultural areas or in proximity to development fared worse than those more removed from human activity. It’s no secret that runoff from farming and development contribute to stream pollution, sediment buildup and bank erosion.

Water study finds many county streams in poor health

Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
06/18/2013
The majority of Frederick County’s watershed areas are suffering from, poor biological health and moderate to severe bank erosion, according, to a sweeping water quality report released Monday. Human activities such as farming and development are largely, responsible for the wide-ranging symptoms of damaged waterways, detailed in the four-year assessment, said Shannon Moore, who manages, the county’s office of sustainability and environmental resources. The, study commissioned by the county is the first of its kind and takes, stock of bug populations, the amount of food and shelter available for, stream life, erosion, and water pollutants. Moore said the county aims to develop these evaluations every four, years and will use the first report as a baseline against which to, compare future data.

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.

Monocacy River foul

Frederick News Post
06/12/2013
The Monocacy Scenic River Citizens Advisory Board is taking new steps in an attempt to stop the dumping of old tires into the Monocacy River. Tire dumping into the Monocacy has become a worrisome issue for the river board in recent years, so along with county officials they’re going to ensure that all county bridges that span the Monocacy are marked as such, along with prominent signs that warn of the fine for illegal dumping. Many of these bridges have heretofore been unmarked and missing signs indicating that dumping is prohibited

Pulte housing plan for 1,000 units in Boyds under fire

Coalition recommends shifting density to unbuilt Clarksburg Town Center
Gazette
Virginia Terhune
06/12/2013
[Montgomery] County environmentalists are recommending that a plan by the Pulte Group to build 1,000 homes on three ridges in the Ten Mile Creek watershed in Boyds be scaled back or eliminated by placing most of the 538-acre rural site into the county’s Agriculture Reserve. “The only way to preserve fragile water systems is to cap development in their watersheds, clear and simple,” according to a 26-page report released June 6 by the Save Ten Mile Creek Coalition.

‘Rain tax’ falls all over the place: Stormwater fees uneven, from a penny to thousands

MarylandReporter.com
Christopher Goins
06/05/2013
The state’s 10 most populated counties are required by law to implement a stormwater utility fee by July 1. The revenue will be used to fund their respective watershed protection and restoration programs, designed to prevent pollutants from entering the Chesapeake Bay. Seven jurisdictions have set a fee, but three others are still in the process of setting fees or getting local approval. The bill requiring the tax, HB 987, passed in 2012, left it up to counties to set the fees themselves.

Commissioners set 1-cent rain tax

Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
05/31/2013
County commissioners Thursday decided to start charging eligible properties an annual fee of one penny, enough to net the county a grand total of $487.81 each year, according to staff estimates. For county leaders, though, the goal is not to drum up funds but to do the bare minimum to comply with a state mandate. Legislation passed by the Maryland General Assembly in 2012 requires 10 jurisdictions, including Frederick County, to craft a stormwater remediation fee by July 1, 2013. The law gave local leaders freedom to design the fee, known by its critics as a “rain tax,” but stipulated that proceeds should pay for watershed restoration and preservation.

Organization seeking to recognize green businesses

Carroll County Times
Carrie Ann Knauer
05/27/2013
A local environmental organization is aiming to connect eco-friendly businesses to eco-conscious consumers through a Green Business Network in Carroll County. The program is a collaborative effort by a committee composed of members of Waste Not! Carroll, Sustainable Living Maryland and the Catoctin chapter of the Sierra Club, said Sally Long, one of the committee members. Long said fellow committee member Don West came across a similar network of green businesses in Boone, N.C., and thought it would be a good opportunity for Carroll businesses and consumers.

Mainstream Green

(Environmentally and economically, it just makes sense to use energy wisely.)
Frederick News Post
07/17/2012
The Maryland Clean Energy Center reports that the state's clean energy industry is hiring. According to the center's executive director Kathy Magruder, "People are starting to adopt these practices and implement these measures in their lives, which creates demand for the employment."

Environmentalists urge Frederick delegate to switch ‘black liquor’ vote

County delegate says he won’t back bill to halt paper mill energy credits
Gazette
Sherry Greenfield
04/04/2013
Despite pressure from a local global-warming group, Del. Galen Clagett of Frederick said he has no intention of changing his vote on a bill to stop financial rewards for paper mills that burn a tar-like substance called “black liquor” to generate power. The Chesapeake Climate Action Network is working feverishly to convince Clagett (D-Dist. 3A) to change his vote before the Maryland General Assembly adjourns its legislative session Monday night. “There is still time for him to change his mind,” said James McGarry, the network’s policy analyst, at a news conference Wednesday afternoon in Frederick. “I hope he will change his mind.”

Black liquor' deal goes sour

MD paper mill backtracks on compromise, fights to retain lucrative renewable energy credits
Baltimore Sun
Tim Wheeler
03/14/2013
A deal environmentalists thought had been worked out to stop mostly out-of-state paper mills from cashing in on Maryland's renewable energy law by burning so-called "black liquor" has come unglued. The state's only paper plant in Allegany County has backtracked on a pledge not to oppose the move in return for being allowed to keep collecting from the state's utility customers for another five years. The New Page mill in Luke and several others out of state have reaped millions of dollarsfrom Maryland ratepayers over the past eight years by taking advantage of an obscure provision in the "renewable portfolio standard" law, passed in 2004 to reduce the state's reliance on climate-warming fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas. Under the law, Maryland's electricity suppliers must increase the amount of power generated from renewable sources to 20 percent by 2022. They can either produce it themselves, or buy "renewable energy credits" from facilities generating power from a variety of specified sources, including wind, solar, geothermal and poultry manure. The state's electricity buyers pay for those credits through slightly higher rates. But the law also recognizes as renewable fuel wood scraps and a tarry substance known as "black liquor," a carbon-rich byproduct of the paper pulping process. As a result, the New Page mill and others in Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio get subsidies for what is a traditional industry practice of generating power for their plants by burning their waste products.

Black liquor’ deal goes sour

MD paper mill backtracks on compromise, fights to retain lucrative renewable energy credits
Baltimore Sun
Tim Wheeler
03/14/2013
A deal environmentalists thought had been worked out to stop mostly out-of-state paper mills from cashing in on Maryland's renewable energy law by burning so-called "black liquor" has come unglued. The state's only paper plant in Allegany County has backtracked on a pledge not to oppose the move in return for being allowed to keep collecting from the state's utility customers for another five years. The New Page mill in Luke and several others out of state have reaped millions of dollarsfrom Maryland ratepayers over the past eight years by taking advantage of an obscure provision in the "renewable portfolio standard" law, passed in 2004 to reduce the state's reliance on climate-warming fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas. Under the law, Maryland's electricity suppliers must increase the amount of power generated from renewable sources to 20 percent by 2022. They can either produce it themselves, or buy "renewable energy credits" from facilities generating power from a variety of specified sources, including wind, solar, geothermal and poultry manure. The state's electricity buyers pay for those credits through slightly higher rates. But the law also recognizes as renewable fuel wood scraps and a tarry substance known as "black liquor," a carbon-rich byproduct of the paper pulping process. As a result, the New Page mill and others in Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio get subsidies for what is a traditional industry practice of generating power for their plants by burning their waste products.

State coming to grips with climate change

Some measures being taken to combat future heat, storms
Gazette
C. Benjamin Ford
07/13/2012
According to climate scientists and a number of state officials, the events of the past two weeks are consistent with what Maryland faces as a result of climate change. “Fires, drought, more extreme weather events — this is what it looks like,” said Zoe Johnson, program manager for climate policy in the Office for a Sustainable Future with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. The recent heat wave “shows us ways we're vulnerable now.” State officials will review the recent events to see what steps can be taken to prepare for the future, she said.

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."

Potomac named most endangered river

Group says agricultural and urban factors are contributing to pollution
Frederick News Post
Courtney Pomeroy
05/15/2012
The Potomac River has been named the most endangered river in the country. American Rivers, a nonprofit environmental group headquartered in Washington, annually releases a list of the nation's top 10 at-risk rivers. The 2012 list, released today, says agricultural and urban factors are contributing to the Potomac's pollution. Hedrick Belin, president of the Potomac Conservancy, noted that the federal Clean Water Act of 1972 has helped the river come a long way in the last 40 years. "But now is really not the time to turn our backs," he said. "Now is (the) time to finish the job."

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.