Who’ll Stop the Rain Tax?

A press release from the Craig – Haddaway-Riccio campaign:

Harford County Executive and Maryland candidate for Governor David R. Craig released today an economic impact analysis of the so-called rain tax which soaks a typical business that depends on parking lots, roofs and other impervious surfaces with thousands of dollars in fees.  Illustrating the haphazard approach under the new Maryland law, a family-owned General Motors dealership used as a case study in the analysis would be required to pay anywhere from one penny in an outer suburban county to $12,000 per year in Baltimore City.

“If you wanted to open a business with a parking lot, would you want to come to Maryland and figure out this new tax?" asked Craig. “It is easier in our small state for many businesses to simply locate in Delaware, Pennsylvania or Virginia.”

The law, formally known as the “Stormwater Management – Watershed Protection and Restoration Program,” stems from the Obama Administration’s EPA mandate to reduce run off into the Chesapeake Bay.  The O’Malley-Brown Administration signed the measure into law in 2012 with an estimated fiscal impact projected to be a staggering $14.8 billion.  It is the costliest documented stormwater fee regime in the nation that the campaign could determine.   The first stormwater fees were implemented in some jurisdictions across the country beginning in the mid 1970’s to help meet federal Clean Water Act requirements.

Baltimore City alone estimates it will collect $24 million from the rain tax per year. Baltimore, which already has the state’s highest property and individual income taxes, leads the state in taxpayer exodus according to the latest Internal Revenue Service data.
“Baltimore City is sealing its own fate like Detroit – a downward spiral caused by raising taxes and fees on a shrinking base,” said Craig. “Baltimore especially can ill-afford to saddle residents and businesses with the highest rain tax in the state; it will only circle the financial drain that much faster.”

Craig will hold a press conference on the rain tax on Tuesday, September 17 at Boyle Buick and GMC Truck in Abingdon.   The announcement coincides with a scheduled visit to Maryland from Texas Gov. Rick Perry who is waging a media attack on the state’s business climate under the O’Malley-Brown Administration and a nascent grassroots secessionist movement in western Maryland that is likewise gaining media attention.

The O’Malley-Brown Administration has increased taxes, fees and tolls 40 times that remove an additional $3.1 billion out of the economy per year. 

“There is a pattern here,” said Craig. “There is a growing class of ‘forgotten Marylanders’ – people who are left behind from all walks of life and from every part of our state who are required to pay record amounts of taxes, fees and tolls to support radical political rulers who no longer represent them.”

Only in the Once Free State does the government tax the rain.  What’s next?

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The EPA Brigade

CHICKEN, AK – I remember watching a 1997 Steven Seagal movie, Fire Down Below, and thinking what a stupid premise the movie was based on.  Sure it was decent low brow entertainment and I loved some of the actors – Marg Helgenberger, Kris Kristofferson, Levon Helm – and the country singers that also appeared – Marty Stuart, Randy Travis, Travis Tritt – but c’mon … an EPA agent wages war against an evil corporation and the town it controls.  Boy, was I wrong!

Last week armed EPA agents raided the thriving metropolis of Chicken, Alaska.  The EPA Brigade showed up in full body armor looking for violations of the Clean Water Act.

The next time I need to call 911 for the police I’ll tell them that someone is polluting rather than robbing my house.  Maybe the eco-army will respond faster.

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When Subsidies Go Bad

PORTLAND, OR – What happens when the taxpayers loan a company $10 million and provide another $20 million in other incentives in return for a PROMISED 450 jobs?  If you are an Oregon taxpayer and the company is SoloPower, the answer appears … NOT MUCH.

Like the better known case of Solyndra, Oregon taxpayers are waiting to find out if they will ever recover any of their hard earned money after the San Jose, CA based firm has announced that it is closing shop.

READ MORE …

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Businesses Object to Stormwater Fees

BALTIMORE, MD – While Eastern Shore property owners brace for the news of how much they will be forced to pay, business owners and non-profits on the Western Shore of Maryland are already complaining about the new stormwater fees they will be charged starting July 1.  Fees for homeowners are running from $18 to more than $100 per year.  Businesses and non-profits estimate that their charges could be more than $10,000 per year in some cases.  Because this is classified as a fee rather than a tax, non-profit organizations are not exempt.

On Tuesday, newly re-elected Salisbury mayor Jim Ireton is presenting his plan for improving downtown Salisbury.  He is not expected to unveil the fee structure.  Businesses question whether or not investment in Salisbury is cost-effective given that lower tax Delaware and Virginia are just a few miles to the north and south.

In Baltimore and other counties, businesses are being charged this fee even if they treat their own stormwater:

David C. McKenzie, vice president of Liquid Transfer Terminals Inc. in Curtis Bay, said his company pays about $58,000 in property taxes and could get hit with nearly $44,000 in stormwater fees. That fee is too high, McKenzie argues, because his company treats its own stormwater.

"A facility that manages its own stormwater is not treated any differently than a facility that does nothing to mitigate its stormwater pollution," he said.

One Baltimore business, Rukert Terminals Corp., estimates that its fee could be in excess of $300,000 per year.

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How Could You Possibly Question Climate Change?

That seems to be the question being asked with dismay by our friends at the Chestertown Spy.  Why are only 20% of Americans between the ages of 32 and 52 concerned about climate change?  Perhaps it’s because people over the age of 30 have acquired enough wisdom to understand that global climate has historically run in cycles and that every time we have a hot summer or a cold winter it isn’t because of a right-wing capitalist plot to destroy our environment?  Perhaps it’s because climate change advocates keep getting caught promoting “science” that defies common sense or that those same “scientists” seem more concerned with promoting an agenda than finding the truth?

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Sudlersville Commissioners Close Checkbook to Engineering Firm

SUDLERSVILLE, MD – After a request from engineering firm RETTEW for additional cost overruns, the Sudlersville Town Commissioners have decided to close the town’s checkbook to the firm.

“Enough is enough. Every time we turn around it’s more money, more money … it’s almost August 2012, and we haven’t got a shovel in the ground,” said Commissioner Bill Faust. “If we agree on this, the checkbook is closed to RETTEW.”

“As far as I’m concerned, the checkbook should have been closed a long time ago,” Ford said.

One complaint from the commissioners which epitomized the problems faced by the town was whether to use a vacuum system or a grinder system.  RETTEW told commissioners that a grinder system was more cost effective for a system of their size.  RETTEW then delivered plans which called for a vacuum system.

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O’Malley Expected to Issue “Climate Change” Executive Order

ANNAPOLIS, MD – Maryland governor Martin O’Malley is expected to issue an executive order that will impact the state’s acquisition of land and its infrastructure.

DNR is “shifting away” from conserving land that is less than 2 feet above sea level, because of predictions that such land likely will be under water in 50 years, Griffin told the committee.

“There have been small land holdings that we have not pursued [that otherwise] might have been purchased to complete a larger complex of land,” Griffin said in an interview Thursday, explaining what the policy has meant in practice.

DNR Secretary John Griffin used Dorchester County’s Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge as an example of land lost:

During the past eight decades, the refuge has lost about 5,000 acres, roughly a third of its original area.

The biggest factors affecting the refuge now are relative sea-level rise, land subsidence, or sinking, and wind and wave action. The latter have become stronger as the loss of marsh land creates larger sections of open water where wave and wind energy build, wildlife refuge manager Suzanne Beard said Thursday.

Of course, the overwhelming share of that loss was due to sinking and erosion, not sea level rise caused by climate change.  The expected cost of Maryland’s taxpayers of implementing these new rules is unknown.

READ MORE …

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MDE Secretary – “Let Them Eat Cake”

Thanks to Del. Mike Smigiel (R-36)

Maryland Environment Secretary Robert Summers displays the arrogance typical of Democrats in the Baltimore – DC corridor.  We shouldn’t be surprised that an elitist, “limousine liberal” like Summers thinks that $8,000 is a “modest” sum and that no hard working Maryland citizen should resent ponying up to install a new septic system so that the Chesapeake Bay MIGHT become a tiny bit cleaner.

A career academician and political appointee, Summers has spent his adult life spending other people’s money.  It shouldn’t be a great surprise that Summers takes the attitude that no cost is too great to reach some rationalistic ideal.  Of course, it also means that he gets to continue to spend YOUR hard earned money.

Delegate Smigiel hits the nail right on the head:

In closing Secretary Summers said that these costs are not more than those on public water systems are already paying. I doubt that anyone on public systems are being forced to pay tens of thousands of dollars to have a child or parent move into their home. The Secretary leaves out of his equation the fact that Septic System owners also pay through out the life of their systems the cost of cleaning and maintaining them.

The Secretary never addresses the taking issue, nor does he attempt to justify the heavy handed tactics of circumventing the legislature other than to say, we believe we can pass regulations without the legislature.

If there was ever any doubt that Gov. Martin O’Malley and his minions have declared war on rural Maryland, the legally questionable tactics of O’Malley appointees like Secretary Summers should leave no doubt.

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Talbot County Finds Replacement for Hospital Property

EASTON, MD – The Talbot County Council has decided to acquire 86 acres outside of Oxford as a replacement for land adjacent to the Hog Neck Community Center which the county is donating for the new hospital proposed by Shore Health Systems.  The property is being acquired from the Conservation Fund and all future development on the property will be prohibited.

Talbot County is donating 78 acres adjacent to the Hog Neck Community Center to Shore Health Systems for the construction of their new hospital.  Because that property was initially acquired using Program Open Space funds, the property must be replaced.

READ MORE …

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DNREC, Port of Wilmington Worried About Effects of Global Warming

WILMINGTON, DE – It’s never a bad thing to plan for probable contingencies, but it appears that the state of Delaware and the Port of Wilmington are worrying about fantasy.  The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) is working on scenarios where the sea level rises by 0.5 meters, 1.0 meters, and 1.5 meters.

Delaware First Media reports that a DNREC study indicates the port could suffer irreparable damage if the sea level rises 1.0 meters.  Readers should note that there is a difference between “sea level” and rises in the Delaware River due to natural flooding conditions.  It should also be noted that flood levels can rise much farther than 1.0, or even 1.5, meters.

This “study” sounds like another ploy to spend federal (and state) tax dollars in the name of “man-made climate change”.  Naturally occurring weather cycles (both long and short term) should be planned for.  The need to spend money on the possibility that the average sea level in Wilmington will rise 3’ – 5’ should be viewed with skepticism.

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Pennsylvania and EPA Fight Over Natural Gas Drilling Oversight

DIMOCK, PA – As gasoline prices reach $4.00 per gallon, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is sparring with Pennsylvania officials over the regulation of wastewater from drilling in one of the nation’s most product natural gas fields.

Federal regulators are ramping up their oversight of the Marcellus with dual investigations in the northeastern and southwestern corners of Pennsylvania. EPA is also sampling water around Pennsylvania for its national study of the potential environmental and public health impacts of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, the technique that blasts a cocktail of sand, water and chemicals deep underground to stimulate oil and gas production in shale formations like the Marcellus. Fracking allows drillers to reach previously inaccessible gas reserves, but it produces huge volumes of polluted wastewater and environmentalists say it can taint groundwater. Energy companies deny it.

The administration of Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett insists that the state is best suited for regulating drilling in the Keystone State.

READ MORE …

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Virginia Supreme Court Denies Cuccinelli’s Request for UVA Documents

RICHMOND, VA – The Virginia Supreme Court has blocked an attempt by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to secure documents in his investigation of work performed by former University of Virginia instructor Michael Mann regarding climate change.  The high court ruled that the state’s “Fraud Against Taxpayers Act” was not intended to apply to state entities.

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Rick Santorum? Who Is the Real Zealot?

Source – FOXNews

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Easton Mandates Recycling

EASTON, MD – The Easton Town Council had voted to mandate recycling for all residents.  The vote was 4 – 0 and excludes commercial properties.

Councilman Leonard Wendowski abstained from the vote, citing concerns about costs.  The town estimates that the program would cost approximately $6 per household per month.

The recycling program will probably begin on July 1st.  Council will have to set fees prior to the program’s start.

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Talbot Council Votes No on Tilghman Wind Generator, Solar Array

EASTON, MD – The Talbot County Council, citing space and the concerns of residents, have scrapped plans for a 152 foot high wind generator and a solar array at the Tilghman waste water treatment facility.  The project would have cost approximately $800,000 of which the state would have paid $600,000.

The alternative energy project would have saved the county approximately $14,000 per year in electric costs.  Councilwoman Laura E. Price stated that the savings really didn’t make the project worthwhile given the long payback period and concerns of the residents.

Councilman Dick Bartlett argued that the solar array would take almost every piece of available space left on the site and there would be not room for future expansion of the waste water treatment facility.

photo courtesy of the Star Democrat

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Talbot Council Votes No on Tilghman Wind Generator, Solar Array

EASTON, MD – The Talbot County Council, citing space and the concerns of residents, have scrapped plans for a 152 foot high wind generator and a solar array at the Tilghman waste water treatment facility.  The project would have cost approximately $800,000 of which the state would have paid $600,000.

The alternative energy project would have saved the county approximately $14,000 per year in electric costs.  Councilwoman Laura E. Price stated that the savings really didn’t make the project worthwhile given the long payback period and concerns of the residents.

Councilman Dick Bartlett argued that the solar array would take almost every piece of available space left on the site and there would be not room for future expansion of the waste water treatment facility.

photo courtesy of the Star Democrat

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Small Businesses Could Be Hit Hard By Flush Tax Increase

ANNAPOLIS, MD – Initially told that the flush tax could double, Maryland legislators are balking at a proposed increase that could more than triple the existing tax for small businesses.  Maryland Sen. J. B. Jennings (R-7) asks a simple question:

“How much do we need,” Jennings asked O’Malley and Summers at the committee hearing Tuesday. “Originally I’m hearing a doubling of the fee, but when you look at the business side, it’s up 250%.”

Jennings said the projected costs to businesses seemed excessive and believes the additional tax burden would be passed onto consumers.

Jennings cited the example of one grocery store in his district that would see an increase in the annual tax from $1,900 to over $7,000.

The O’Malley administration argues that the total revenue from the increase will only rise by 100%.

READ MORE …

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Colburn Sponsors Bill to Force University to Pay Farmer’s Legal Fees

ANNAPOLIS, MD – Maryland Senator Richard Colburn (R-37) has introduced a bill that would require the University of Maryland to reimburse the Hudson family of Worcester County up to $500,000 in legal bills.  The University’s Environmental Law Clinic is acting as plaintiff’s attorney in a lawsuit filed against the Hudson family and Perdue Farms by the Assateague Coastkeeper and the Waterkeeper Alliance.

Currently Colburn is the sole sponsor if SB 945.  While Colburn does not represent Worcester County, he said that this bill is important to every farm family in Maryland:

"It doesn’t matter if it’s in Wicomico, Worcester, Somerset, Dorchester or Queen Anne’s County — people everywhere are very upset about this and they can’t understand it," Colburn said.

State tax dollars go to support the University’s law school and its law clinics.

A spokesperson for the Assateague Coastkeeper responded:

"(Senate Bill) 945 is an outrageous attack on clean water by a small handful of extremists in the state legislature and is grandstanding at its worst," said Kathy Phillips, executive director of Assateague Coastkeeper. "It will backfire and help rally efforts to force Perdue to share responsibility for the pollution caused by the dumping of 550,000 tons of chicken manure on our land and into our waterways each year in Maryland."

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Accomack Supervisors to Hold Public Hearing on Wattsville Development

ACCOMAC, VA – The Accomack County Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing tonight on proposed zoning changes for a Wattsville development and its proposed wastewater treatment plant.  The hearing is set for 7PM at Metompkin Elementary School in Parksley.

The proposed zoning change would redefine the county’s definition of a public utility to include those owned by private companies.  Under Accomack County’s current definition, only utilities owned by the county or towns apply.  Mark Baumgardner, attorney for the developers of the proposed Atlantic Town Center, has argued that the state’s definition of a public utility already includes privately owned utilities that are governed by the State Corporation Commission and that Accomack’s definition contradicts the state law.

At a Planning Commission public hearing on January 11th, over 200 people attended the hearing.  Thirty two (32) spoke in opposition to the development while no one spoke in favor.

photo courtesy of the Eastern Shore News

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Russian Tanker Arrives at Destination, Prepares Fuel Transfer

NOME, AK – A Russian tanker has finally arrived at Nome and is now preparing to transfer 1.3 million gallons of diesel and gasoline.  The tanker was dispatched because a fall storm prevented Nome from receiving its final fuel delivery before being iced in over the winter.

The tanker, anchored about 1/2 mile offshore, will begin transferring the fuel as soon as as the ice is prepared and a hose is deployed to the ship.

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VA Supreme Court to Hear Appeal of AG’s Request for Documents

RICHMOND, VA – The Virginian Pilot reports that the Virginia Supreme Court will here arguments today relating to Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s request for documents related to a former University of Virginia climate change researcher’s work.  Cuccinelli had requested all documents and emails regarding former UVA researcher Michael Mann’s research and his alleged manipulation of data.  Mann is now a professor at Penn State University.

Cuccinelli’s office is investigating whether or not Mann defrauded taxpayers by manipulating data in his climate change research.  Attorneys for the University argue that Cuccinelli subpoena was not specific enough about how Mann might have broken the law, and that he lacks authority to investigate federal grants.  A lower court sided with the University.

Cuccinelli submitted a more detailed request that involved only one state grant.  However, a judge has placed a hold on that request until the state Supreme Court rules on this matter.

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Trail Closes to Protect Bald Eagles

CAMBRIDGE, MD – The Marsh Trail at Dorchester County’s Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge closes today because of a pair of bald eagles nesting in the area.  While bald eagles are no longer considered an endangered species, they are federally protected.  According to Refuge officials, there are approximately 25 eagle nests within the refuge.

photo courtesy of WBOC

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Raining Blackbirds Target of Crime

BEEBE, AR – Authorities in this small Arkansas town believe that blackbirds literally raining from the sky for a second year are the result of criminal, rather than supernatural, activity.

One year after over 4,000 birds fell from the sky, sparking a media frenzy, over 200 dead blackbirds littered the streets on Sunday morning.  The Arkansas Fish and Game Commission believes that the birds were, again, targeted with fireworks:

In a statement, Genny Porter from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission said, “We know that there was evidence of fireworks set off in the middle of the roost, and it wasn’t a coincidence.”

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Bag Tax Comes to Montgomery County

ROCKVILLE, MD – Shopping just got a little bit more expensive in MoCo.  Shoppers will now be charged five cents for each plastic bag, unless you bring your own.

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Sussex Wins Appeal Over Land Use

GEORGETOWN, DE – The Delaware Supreme Court has ruled that Sussex County, and not the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), has control over land use issues in the county.  The court ruled that DNREC did not have the authority to implement 100 foot buffers along Delaware’s inland bays, superseding Sussex County’s regulations which require a 50 foot buffer.

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Former Audubon Sanctuary Preserved for Future Generations

BOZMAN, MD – Talbot County businessman Bob Pascal has donated a public access easement and relinquished all future development rights to the 975 acre former Audubon sanctuary on Broad Creek Neck.  The Maryland Board of Public Works approved the state’s first donated public access easement on Wednesday.

"Obviously Talbot County is terribly excited about this historic donation," Talbot County Manager John Craig said. "Mr. Pascal has provided an enduring opportunity for the public to have access to one of the most amazing parcels of land anywhere. In a time when it seems each day we hear more negative news than the day before, it is truly astonishing to realize the possibilities of what this donation holds. We could not be more pleased about what the future holds for this piece of Talbot County."

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will hold and administer the easement:

"This is a historic donation and I want to thank Bob Pascal for this legacy to future generations," Gov. Martin O’Malley said. "This land will create new opportunities for Maryland families and visitors to get outside and enjoy the bountiful natural wonders of our Eastern Shore."

photo courtesy of the Star Democrat

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Uranium Mining Study to Be Released

RICHMOND, VA – The much anticipated report by the National Academy of Sciences on uranium mining in Virginia is due to be released to state legislators today.  The General Assembly is expected to tackle Virginia’s ban on uranium mining in the 2012 session.  This is in response to a 119 million pound deposit found in Pittsylvania County.

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Shore Farmers Concerned About “Pollution Diet”

MELFA, VA and SALISBURY, MD – Farmers, environmental activists, and other interested citizens gathered at two separate locations on the Eastern Shore to discuss the impact of the Environmental Protection Agency’s so-called “Pollution Diet”, or Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), and its impact on Shore agriculture.  Hundreds showed up at Eastern Shore Community College in Melfa showed up at a discussion organized by Del. Lynwood Lewis (D-100).  A smaller group of about 30 came to a debate put together by the Wicomico Neighborhood Congress.

One common theme between the two meetings was “certainty”.  Farmers, who have been described as the nation’s most regulated small business owners, are not only concerned about the regulations but also about the lack of assurance that the goals will continually shift – with an ever increasing burden placed on agriculture.

“They want to know simply what to do, let me do it and leave me alone,” said Wilmer Stoneman, Associate Director for Government Relations for the Virginia Farm Bureau.

Virginia, Delaware and Maryland all are looking at certification, termed “Ag Certainty,” that would ensure farmers who voluntarily take on restrictive standards are considered in compliance with requirements for a certain period, said Jeff Corbin, Senior Advisor on the Chesapeake Bay for the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Seventy miles up US 13 Bill Satterfield, Executive Director of Delmarva Poultry Industry (DPI) was echoing the same sentiment.  While being careful to emphasize that he was not speaking for the entire farm community, Satterfield noted the work that the poultry industry industry, and farmers in general, have done in reducing nutrient pollution.  Yet, the bar continues to move.

In Salisbury Alan Girard of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) emphasized that farmers and “the advocacy community” could work together in finding solutions.  However, he added, there must be consequences for continued pollution to the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed.

While many farmers seemed willing, even eager, to work with the government and environmental groups like the CBF, there appeared to be a lack of trust.  Satterfield presented several quotes from the president of the CBF Maryland League of Conservation Voters (MLCV) that portrayed farmers as greedy and interested solely in profit.  G. A. Harrison also quoted a mailing sent out several years ago from the CBF that claimed a goal was to rid the Delmarva Peninsula of “factory farms”.

photo courtesy of the Eastern Shore News

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Come to Tonight’s WNC Debate –Environmentalism vs. Agriculture

SALISBURY, MD – The Wicomico Neighborhood Congress will host its second “2011 Community Dialogue” on Tuesday, December 13th at Guerrieri Auditorium on the campus of Wor-Wic Community College.  After a successful debate on the county’s revenue cap, the second event will focus on land use:

“Can the County’s Farmers and Environmentalists Still Be Friends?”

***

Second 2011 Community Dialogue

Sponsored by the Wicomico Neighborhood Congress

on

Tuesday Evening * December 13

the Campus of Wor-Wic Community College

From 7:00 to 9:00 PM
***

In the Guerrieri Auditorium on

(Plentiful Parking Available)
***

FOCUS: If we are ever going to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, and preserve the rural and agrarian heritage of the Lower Shore, it will require a partnership between our farmers (and especially the poultry industry) and other citizens (and especially our environmental leadership). While not always in lockstep, these community forces will come together to discuss where they agree, and where they differ – and most importantly, how they can work together in the future for the preservation and betterment of our rural County.

***

Featured speakers will be:

BILL SATTERFIELD of Delmarva Poultry Industry, and ALAN GIRARD of Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Moderator is Dr. JUDITH STRIBLING of Salisbury University (NOTE:  Stribling is also a board member of the Nanticoke Watershed Alliance)

For information contact Mike Pretl at 443-323-3060 or mikepretl@aol.com
or Cindy Pilchard at 410-742-5224 or cindypilchardco@comcast.net.

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Wait! … I Thought It Was All the Fault of Our Farmers

How many times have we been told that the Chesapeake Bay is a mess because of farm run-off.  What pollution isn’t caused by farmers is caused by septic tanks.  Basically, those of us who live on DelMarVa cause a disproportionate amount of the pollution flowing into the Bay. … or do we?

Buried inside the Annapolis Capital is this:

Environmental groups tell The Baltimore Sun there is growing evidence that sewage discharges are a major source of the pollution that leads to algae blooms and fish kills in the Chesapeake Bay. Baltimore’s streams and harbor are routinely fouled even on sunny days.

Experts and activists said a nearly $2 billion overhaul of sewer lines in the city and Baltimore County currently under way won’t be enough.

While our farmers are being buried under a mountain of regulation and the Shore’s property owners face continued attempts to cease all development, we learn that those sewage plants which are a lynchpin of the enviro-left’s “Smart Growth” strategy aren’t doing what they have claimed.  Of course, we’ve known that over here for years.  Simply visit Salisbury’s waste water treatment plant or check out the Wicomico River.

Perhaps that is why we never hear complaints about sewage spills from some of our more prominent local enviro-lefties.  If you go to tomorrow’s WNC debate, you could ask Alan Girard.

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WNC Hosts Debate Tomorrow Night

SALISBURY, MD – The Wicomico Neighborhood Congress will host its second “2011 Community Dialogue” on Tuesday, December 13th at Guerrieri Auditorium on the campus of Wor-Wic Community College.  After a successful debate on the county’s revenue cap, the second event will focus on land use:

“Can the County’s Farmers and Environmentalists Still Be Friends?”

***

Second 2011 Community Dialogue

Sponsored by the Wicomico Neighborhood Congress

on

Tuesday Evening * December 13

the Campus of Wor-Wic Community College

From 7:00 to 9:00 PM
***

In the Guerrieri Auditorium on

(Plentiful Parking Available)
***

FOCUS: If we are ever going to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, and preserve the rural and agrarian heritage of the Lower Shore, it will require a partnership between our farmers (and especially the poultry industry) and other citizens (and especially our environmental leadership). While not always in lockstep, these community forces will come together to discuss where they agree, and where they differ – and most importantly, how they can work together in the future for the preservation and betterment of our rural County.

***

Featured speakers will be:

BILL SATTERFIELD of Delmarva Poultry Industry, and ALAN GIRARD of Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Moderator is Dr. JUDITH STRIBLING of Salisbury University (NOTE:  Stribling is also a board member of the Nanticoke Watershed Alliance)

For information contact Mike Pretl at 443-323-3060 or mikepretl@aol.com
or Cindy Pilchard at 410-742-5224 or cindypilchardco@comcast.net.

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Environmentalists Sue Queen Anne’s

CENTREVILLE, MD – A group of environmentalist organizations has gone to court to prevent Queen Anne’s County from allowing development on several rural parcels.  An attorney representing the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage, Queen Anne’s Conservation Association, Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy, along with 14 individuals, has filed suit seeking an injunction to prevent zoning changes approved by the county’s Board of County Commissioners on November 8th.

"The commissioners’ rezoning decision goes against the county’s newly adopted comprehensive plan, an action we contend is illegal based on state law," said Alan Girard of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

The county’s comprehensive plan was the result of "many months of input" by residents and was approved the planning board and county commissioners in 2010, Girard said.

The rezoning vote "virtually ignores the plan and the will of the people who helped create it through an open and public process," Girard said.

READ MORE …

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Worcester Soil Conservation District Chairman Rebuts “Riverkeeper”

EASTON, MD – In response to an op-ed published by the Star-Democrat, the chairman of the Worcester County Soil Conservation District (WSCD) argues that the head of the Mid-Shore Riverkeeper Conservancy, Tim Junkin, knowingly wrote false information.

"To read (Junkin’s) letter one would assume that the Worcester Soil Conservation District and the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) have been permitting the abuse of tax dollars. Not so," wrote David Hudson.

Junkin claimed that the Hudson family (not related to David Hudson) received state funds to install concrete pads but did not do so.  Hudson offered that this was totally false.  Junkin also argues that because the Hudson family did not have a nutrient management plan in place they are somehow guilty of polluting the Pocomoke River and the Chesapeake Bay.  This is despite the findings of the Maryland Department of the Environment.

"While every farmer is required to have a current nutrient management plan, not having one does not always indicate there is a pollution issue or a misuse of nutrients, just a lack of compliance that indeed must be corrected," David Hudson wrote.

Junkin also claimed:

… the poultry industry produces 44 percent of Maryland’s nitrogen and phosphorus and 65 percent of sediment all contributing to Chesapeake Bay pollution.

These claims are false and even exceed the estimates of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

"For farmers that pollute, there are laws on the books and enforcement actions through the Maryland Department of the Environment to stop pollution. Lawsuits to put farmers out of business are unproductive and will only discourage farmers from seeking assistance," David Hudson wrote.

READ MORE …

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Land Use Debate on December 13th

SALISBURY, MD – The Wicomico Neighborhood Congress will host its second “2011 Community Dialogue” on Tuesday, December 13th at Guerrieri Auditorium on the campus of Wor-Wic Community College.  After a successful debate on the county’s revenue cap, the second event will focus on land use:

“Can the County’s Farmers and Environmentalists Still Be Friends?”

***

Second 2011 Community Dialogue

Sponsored by the Wicomico Neighborhood Congress

on

Tuesday Evening * December 13

the Campus of Wor-Wic Community College

From 7:00 to 9:00 PM
***

In the Guerrieri Auditorium on

(Plentiful Parking Available)
***

FOCUS: If we are ever going to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, and preserve the rural and agrarian heritage of the Lower Shore, it will require a partnership between our farmers (and especially the poultry industry) and other citizens (and especially our environmental leadership). While not always in lockstep, these community forces will come together to discuss where they agree, and where they differ – and most importantly, how they can work together in the future for the preservation and betterment of our rural County.

***

Featured speakers will be:

BILL SATTERFIELD of Delmarva Poultry Industry, and ALAN GIRARD of Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Moderator is Dr. JUDITH STRIBLING of Salisbury University (NOTE:  Stribling is also a board member of the Nanticoke Watershed Alliance)

For information contact Mike Pretl at 443-323-3060 or mikepretl@aol.com
or Cindy Pilchard at 410-742-5224 or cindypilchardco@comcast.net.

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Maryland’s New Nutrient Management Rules Are Being Pulled Back

ANNAPOLIS, MD – The administration of Gov. Martin O’Malley has put a hold on new rules regulating how and when farmers may fertilize their fields.  The Maryland Department of Agriculture had planned to issue new regulations this Friday.  Those regulations are now postponed due to pressure from the state’s agricultural community and municipal leaders.

The proposed regulations would have limited the use of animal manure during the fall and winter months.  In addition, farmers would have been forced to fence off streams to prevent access by livestock.  Municipalities complained about the proposed rules because they would have been banned from spreading sewage sludge on fields during the fall and winter months.

photo courtesy of the Baltimore Sun

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Wicomico Neighborhood Congress to Host Second Debate

SALISBURY, MD – The Wicomico Neighborhood Congress will host its second “2011 Community Dialogue” on Tuesday, December 13th at Guerrieri Auditorium on the campus of Wor-Wic Community College.  After a successful debate on the county’s revenue cap, the second event will focus on land use:

“Can the County’s Farmers and Environmentalists Still Be Friends?”

***

Second 2011 Community Dialogue

Sponsored by the Wicomico Neighborhood Congress

on

Tuesday Evening * December 13

the Campus of Wor-Wic Community College

From 7:00 to 9:00 PM
***

In the Guerrieri Auditorium on

(Plentiful Parking Available)
***

FOCUS: If we are ever going to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, and preserve the rural and agrarian heritage of the Lower Shore, it will require a partnership between our farmers (and especially the poultry industry) and other citizens (and especially our environmental leadership). While not always in lockstep, these community forces will come together to discuss where they agree, and where they differ – and most importantly, how they can work together in the future for the preservation and betterment of our rural County.

***

Featured speakers will be:

BILL SATTERFIELD of Delmarva Poultry Industry, and ALAN GIRARD of Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Moderator is Dr. JUDITH STRIBLING of Salisbury University (NOTE:  Stribling is also a board member of the Nanticoke Watershed Alliance)

For information contact Mike Pretl at 443-323-3060 or mikepretl@aol.com
or Cindy Pilchard at 410-742-5224 or cindypilchardco@comcast.net.

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Time to Strip “Law Clinics” of Taxpayer Funding

The left’s notion of “rights” is telling.  They believe that “free speech” entitles them to be published rather than just being free from government interference or sanction.  They believe that “freedom of opportunity” means that if the desired results are not attained, then discrimination is a given.  They believe that “academic freedom” means the “right” to spend taxpayer dollars however they please.  In the case of the University of Maryland law school that means using state tax dollars to promote a radical environmental agenda and bankrupt a farm family in Worcester County.

The Waterkeepers’ Alliance and Assateague Coastal Trust are suing the Hudson family and Perdue Farms claiming that they are polluting a tributary of the Pocomoke River.  Fair enough, this is America.  The dirty, not-so-little secret is that the Hudson family, Perdue Farms, and every taxpayer on the Eastern Shore is helping to pay for this lawsuit.  The University of Maryland’s law school is acting as the attorney for these two environmental groups.

[Read more…]

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Climategate 2.0 – Emails Add Fuel to Debate Over Man-Made Climate Change

Nearly two (2) years after leaked emails sparked intense debate regarding the validity of scientific evidence supporting man-made climate change, 5,000 new emails have been leaked.  Three (3) themes seem to underlie this latest batch:

  1. Scientists are attempting to conceal, rather than disseminate data.
  2. Many of these scientists view climate change as a political cause.
  3. Many of these scientists admit that the evidence supporting man-made climate change is weak.

One key concept of science is the open sharing of data, theories, hypotheses, etc. so that independent parties can repeat an experiment or verify conclusions.  However, scientists involved in climate change research seem eager to hide their data from the prying eyes of skeptics:

“I’ve been told that IPCC is above national FOI [Freedom of Information] Acts. One way to cover yourself and all those working in AR5 would be to delete all emails at the end of the process,”writes Phil Jones, a scientist working with the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in a newly released email.

“Any work we have done in the past is done on the back of the research grants we get – and has to be well hidden,” Jones writes in another newly released email. “I’ve discussed this with the main funder (U.S. Dept of Energy) in the past and they are happy about not releasing the original station data.”

Scientists are also shown in this latest batch of emails to suggest that data should only be released if it supports “the cause”.  While it was the Bush administration that was accused of “politicizing” science, this latest batch of emails appears to indicate that it is supporters of the man-made climate change theory who are promoting a cause, rather than engaging in honest scientific inquiry.

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Maryland Task Force Backing Off of “Septic Ban” in Rural Maryland

ANNAPOLIS, MD – A task force appointed by Maryland governor Martin O’Malley has recommended a compromise to the administration’s proposal to strictly limit or even ban the installation of new septic tanks.  The panel, chaired by Del. Maggie McIntosh (D-43) has called for a four-tier approach:

  1. Covers areas where both state and local governments agree that they want sewer systems.
  2. Areas where the local government plans for future growth.  There would not be a cap on septic systems in these areas.
  3. Areas where the local government has no plans for either growth or preservation.  Some members of the panel argued that there is not even a category for this.  However, a majority of the panel felt that allowing for this “gray area” would allow for flexibility.
  4. Areas where septic systems would be heavily restricted.  These areas include conservation areas and county agricultural zones.

Opponents such as Maryland Sen. David Brinkley (R-4) criticized the proposal as being an encroachment of local land use authority:

"I think it’s an attempt by the state to micromanage what’s going on at the local level," Brinkley, who was on the panel and voted against the recommendations, said.

The recommendations will be forwarded to the administration and are hoped to be a part of the Governor’s land use legislative package for the 2012 session.

source – the Associated Press and the Baltimore Sun

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Dover Power Plant to Convert to Gas

DOVER, DE – NRG Dover, a coal-fired power plant providing wholesale electricity to the grid, has announced that it will convert to natural gas.  Once the project is complete, it is estimated that the plant will produce 30% more electricity with far less pollution.

photo courtesy of the Wilmington News-Journal

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Opponents of Power Plant Win in Court

SURRY, VA – A proposed $6 billion power plant has been put on hold.  Surry County Circuit Judge Samuel Campbell ruled that the Dendron Town Council did not make clear in public notices that council members would be voting on a permit for the coal-fired power station.  The proposed plant would be owned and operated by the Old Dominion Electric Co-operative (ODEC).

"This is a significant victory for citizens and due process," said Michael Drewry, a Dendron farmer and attorney who challenged the vote along with three other residents.

Drewry on Monday described the ruling as a "David and Goliath" win, saying he and neighbors faced "considerable hardship" in combating "a well-funded corporation that has consistently defended a clear violation of public notice requirements."

According to ODEC, the Cypress Creek Power Station would be equipped with latest pollution controls and would create jobs in the rural county.  The Dendron council still supports the project and can approve it with adequate, and proper, public notice.

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Wind Power May Come to Tilghman

TILGHMAN, MD – Tilghman residents attended a hearing last week at the Tilghman fire hall to hear a presentation about a proposed wind turbine at the Tilghman wastewater treatment plant.  Talbot County Engineer Ray Clarke presented details of the proposed installation.

The proposed turbine would be 152’ tall with 63’ diameter blades.  The 50 kw turbine would produce about 150,000 kwh of electricity per year.  Clarke said that the turbine would reduce the wastewater treatment plant’s $22,500 electric bill by about $13,000.

The Talbot County Council is expected to take up the matter in January.

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Junk Science–Any Conclusion Which Disagrees With the Enviro-Left

When George W. Bush was in the White House we constantly heard that his administration was guilty of “politicizing science”.  Any and all environmental policies were accused of being based on “junk science”.  The reason was a simple one, the definition of “junk science”:

n. Any conclusion which disagrees with the anti-capitalist ideology of the leftist environmental movement.

Delaware Gov. Jack Markell’s recent decision to oppose drilling for natural gas in the Delaware River Basin proves that adherence to a socialist world view trumps science.

Liberals like Markell want to rationalize any and all impacts of government policy.  If the evidence indicates that a leftist policy won’t work, its only because the program wasn’t big enough or the government wasn’t throwing enough of you tax dollars at the problem – real or imagined.

ObamaCare is based on Mitt Romney’s plan in Massachusetts.  By all accounts it’s a disaster.  Obviously a national program will work because more money can be thrown at it..

All scientific data indicates that harvesting natural gas using a technique called hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”) is safe.  The gas is mined thousands of feet below the water table.  Yet, Markell opposes the policy because it hasn’t been studied enough:

Markell said he would vote against the drilling plan because he said it “lacks critical details” on how public health and safety would be protected.

In other words, the science doesn’t support the left’s conclusions, so it needs to be studied some more.

According to the left, energy independence is bad.  Therefore, any scientific evidence which supports allowing America to become less dependent on foreign energy through domestic production is “incomplete”, “politicized”, or “junk science”.  Markell should be ashamed.  Delawareans who continue to pay high prices for energy should remember that these costs are due, in part, to placing an allegiance to the enviro-left’s ideology over valid science or sound public policy.

photo courtesy of WHYY

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Harris Questions EPA Regulations

WASHINGTON – Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) is pushing back against new EPA-mandated air quality regulations.  Harris and Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA), both physicians, are questioning the scientific and economic rationale behind new regulations proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Harris and Broun accuse the EPA of “press release science”.  They claim that the EPA has overstated the benefits and low-balled the economic costs of proposed regulations on power plants.

photo courtesy of Right Coast Conservative

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Delaware River Basin Commission to Consider Ban on Fracking

TRENTON, NJ – Environmental groups are staging a last stand to prevent drilling for natural gas in the portion of the Marcellus Shale which falls in the Delaware River basin.  They are hoping that the Delaware River Basin Commission, comprised of the governors of Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, along with a representative from the Army Corps of Engineers, will call for a halt to drilling.  The Commission meets on November 21st in Trenton.

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Intense Oyster Die-Off in Upper Bay

ANNAPOLIS, MD – Concentrated pockets of dead oysters have been found in the upper Chesapeake Bay.  These pockets appear to be limited to two areas north of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.  These areas accounted for just two percent of last year’s oyster harvest.

It appears that this die-off is due to the record inflow of fresh water into the Bay.  These two pockets are located between the Magothy and Patapsco Rivers on the Western Shore and an area north of Rock Hall, on the Eastern Shore.

READ MORE…

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Commission Postpones Examination of Rockfish Catch Limits Until 2013

BOSTON – The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission has postponed action on reducing Maryland’s harvest of rockfish.  They will re-examine the issue after receiving a new population assessment, due in 2013.

"I think it was appropriate," said Ed O’Brien, an official with the Maryland Charter Boat Association and the National Association of Charterboat Operators. "It puts pressure on the states to look at their own management to make sure they’re doing all they can to protect the fish."

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Turner Family Receives Audubon Award

MELFA, VA – Accomack County sculptor and conservationist William H. Turner, and his family, have received an award from the National Audubon Society for their work in preserving habitat for marsh birds.  Turner and his family maintain a 1,200 acre conservation easement between Nandua and Craddock Creeks.  This area provides habitat for multiple species of marsh birds including black rail and Sedge wren.

photo courtesy of the Daily Times

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