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.

Carroll BoCC smarter than Frederick BoCC?

(Better to proceed with caution rather than risk incurring what could prove to be a crushing financial obligation.)
Frederick News Post
Nick Carrera
04/04/2012
Questions have been raised about the financial justification for the Frederick-Carroll county incinerator. The Board of Carroll County Commissioners responded by holding a solid waste forum to explore all waste options. Now, the president of their board has formed a Solid Waste Advisory Group to study all possibilities for handling solid waste.

Residents offer mixed opinions on Frederick incinerator

Opponents say it’s a financial risk; proponents argue it will generate jobs
Gazette
12/08/2011
A $527 million trash incinerator in Frederick County is a waste of taxpayers’ money, a financial risk, and is dangerous to the environment, according to opponents.

Fact checking 'WTE 101, continued'

Frederick News Post
Karin Tome
11272011
If Harvey Alter were graded on his Nov. 17 commentary ("WTE 101, continued"), he wouldn't receive a very high score. It's not what he said, but what he didn't say. The Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority will issue bonds to pay for the proposed trash incinerator, but the county is obligated (through a separate contract with NMWDA) to make regular payments to them, such as you would for your mortgage. The county's System Benefit Charge is not "so-called," but very real. As a member of the Solid Waste Advisory Committee, Alter knows very well that the primary revenue for this business operation is based both on tipping fees and the SBC fee (which is found on residential and commercial property tax bills and can be raised without limit.) If the revenue from tipping and SBC fees, and the electricity sales and ferrous metal recovery don't cover those expenses, county residents will have to make up the difference through higher SBCs. Alter states that "... anecdotal evidence from around the country is that communities with WTE recycle more" and "Recycling and WTE together conserve and recover more resources than either alone." That statement is true only where recycling is at a very low level and the tonnage of ash (if used for landfill daily cover) and ferrous metal found in the ash are counted as recycling. However, as recycling increases it will compete with incineration, especially for plastics and paper. We could spend, however, a fraction of the cost of the incinerator on alternative ways to divert waste from the landfill (such as a commercial compost facility or manned recycling centers throughout the county (in addition to Reich's Ford Road) and we'd be able to recover many more resources and conserve more energy than would be produced by burning them. For example: Manufacturing a ton of newspaper from trees takes 11,699 kilowatt hours; if that ton of paper is recycled, a new ton of paper can be made using only 6,442 kWh, but if it's burned it only produces 1,875 kWh of electricity.

Fact checking ‘WTE 101, continued’

Frederick News Post
Karin Tome
11272011
If Harvey Alter were graded on his Nov. 17 commentary ("WTE 101, continued"), he wouldn't receive a very high score. It's not what he said, but what he didn't say. The Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority will issue bonds to pay for the proposed trash incinerator, but the county is obligated (through a separate contract with NMWDA) to make regular payments to them, such as you would for your mortgage. The county's System Benefit Charge is not "so-called," but very real. As a member of the Solid Waste Advisory Committee, Alter knows very well that the primary revenue for this business operation is based both on tipping fees and the SBC fee (which is found on residential and commercial property tax bills and can be raised without limit.) If the revenue from tipping and SBC fees, and the electricity sales and ferrous metal recovery don't cover those expenses, county residents will have to make up the difference through higher SBCs. Alter states that "... anecdotal evidence from around the country is that communities with WTE recycle more" and "Recycling and WTE together conserve and recover more resources than either alone." That statement is true only where recycling is at a very low level and the tonnage of ash (if used for landfill daily cover) and ferrous metal found in the ash are counted as recycling. However, as recycling increases it will compete with incineration, especially for plastics and paper. We could spend, however, a fraction of the cost of the incinerator on alternative ways to divert waste from the landfill (such as a commercial compost facility or manned recycling centers throughout the county (in addition to Reich's Ford Road) and we'd be able to recover many more resources and conserve more energy than would be produced by burning them. For example: Manufacturing a ton of newspaper from trees takes 11,699 kilowatt hours; if that ton of paper is recycled, a new ton of paper can be made using only 6,442 kWh, but if it's burned it only produces 1,875 kWh of electricity.

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.

O’Malley to sign energy incentive legislation

Frederick News Post
Meg Tully
05/18/2011
Gov. Martin O'Malley will sign a bill recognizing waste-to-energy trash incineration as renewable energy generation, disregarding pleas from environmental groups to veto it. O'Malley, who has been considering the matter for weeks, sent out a lengthy statement Tuesday evening saying he intended to sign the bill. It is scheduled to be signed at a ceremony Thursday -- the last of such ceremonies held after the conclusion of the Maryland General Assembly session last month. The bill will provide financial incentives for those operating waste-to-energy plants that convert trash into electricity through incineration. Such a plant is planned in Frederick County, where the commissioners have committed to building a waste-to-energy plant and are in the planning stages. Frederick County residents opposed to that plant had written emails to O'Malley asking him to veto the bill, joining efforts from environmental and health organizations from around the state.

Embracing sustainability

Frederick News Post
Meg Tully
09/27/2010
Frederick County government employees headed to the first of a series of lunchtime "sustainability conversations" expecting to talk about local food

Framework adopted for sustainability commission

Frederick News Post
Karen Gardner
03/11/2009
The Frederick County Commissioners are moving forward with a plan to make the county cleaner and greener. The commissioners adopted a framework for countywide sustainability. They also approved the creation of a Sustainability Commission, which will act in an advisory role. Both moves represent the commissioners' desire to incorporate environmentally sound approaches into county functions. Hilari Varnadore, director of the county's new Office of Sustainability, said the goal is to link environmental policy with economic and social considerations. "When these are combined and decisions are made that integrate all three, you can achieve a sustainable community," she said in her PowerPoint presentation to the commissioners Tuesday. The sustainability commission ideally will have 13 members representing energy, agriculture, education, small business, health and grass roots. The commissioners supported Varnadore's framework with a consensus vote. Commissioners Jan Gardner, David Gray and Kai Hagen voted to support the commission.

“Waste-to-Energy” = a risky waste of energy, resources and money (part 2)

Frederick Politics
Kai Hagen
08/27/2008
I'm convinced there are viable alternatives that are far more economically-responsible, more environmentally-friendly, and, generally, much more in tune with the way the world is moving. As contentious and frustrating and stressful as this process has been, I have to believe that we will not make this decision and commitment without a fair and thorough examination of the basic concept that so many (and more all the time) have been asking for. One of the most critical differences between WTE incineration and potential alternatives is that the alternatives would be inherently more flexible and adaptable and dynamic in our changing world, and much less risky as a result. The county commissioners owe it to the people of Frederick County to be more diligent and certain before giving up that flexibility, and locking the next six or seven boards, and the residents and taxpayers, into a very expensive, unpopular, outdated, and irretrievably inflexible "solution."

“Waste-to-Energy” = a risky waste of energy, resources and money

Frederick Politics
Kai Hagen
08/06/2008
It's hard to know where to start a short series of columns about an issue as mutli-faceted and complex as the current controversy about the proposal to construct a regional "Waste-to-Energy" (incinerator) facility in Frederick County. A steadily growing number of people in the county have been discussing and debating the issue for a while. Over the past few years, the county has taken many steps in the process, including a number of concrete steps toward a decision to build a Waste-to-Energy (WTE)/incinerator. But an abundance of anecdotal evidence makes it clear that many people, and perhaps most by a good margin, have only recently started paying attention and learning about the issue. Certainly, the vast majority of local news coverage of the issue has been in the last year, with most of that in the last few months.

Commissioners forgo bottled water

Frederick News Post
Meg Bernhardt
10/26/2007
A pitcher and paper cups replaced the traditional bottles of water placed in front of the Frederick County Commissioners during evening meetings. As the commissioners sat down to discuss waste disposal issues this week, Commissioner Kai Hagen announced the new policy to the audience, comprised mostly of people who want to protect the environment. The county established the rule this month that its departments will not buy bottled water or styrofoam cups. "One of the big issues right now is the going green concept and in my opinion this is going to go a long way to eliminate waste generation at the county's landfill," said County Manager Ron Hart. The quality of the water is not a problem, Hagen said. "Tastes fine to me," he said with a smile.