THE LATEST FROM THE MARYLAND DEPARTMENT OF THE ENVIRONMENT
EARTH WEEK 2015
Greetings all. April 22 was Earth Day (in fact, the 45th since its creation in 1970). With spring in the air and flowers in bloom, it’s a great time to celebrate our environmental progress and recommit to cleaner air, water, land and natural resources. Here are some of the activities over the past week that MDE folks have participated in to celebrate, recommit, clean up, and rethink for environmental protection and sustainability.
I participated in Montgomery County’s Green Business Certification program, sponsored and hosted by the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection and the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce. Twenty-five local area businesses were celebrating their brand new green certifications, which include fairly rigorous third party verifications/audits. Great group of business and local government leaders, including Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection’s nationally recognized leader, Lisa Feldt, were there boosting efforts through innovation, collaboration and positive recognition.
Earth Day, April 22:
MDE and I helped celebrate Washington County’s leadership on solar energy. Local leaders, such as Julie Pippel, and three energy companies are embracing innovative public-private partnerships to convert landfills into solar fields. They hope to be 100 percent green energy by June 2016. Great example of the message that Maryland is open for business, and the greener the greater.
MDE joined the Maryland Department of Natural Resources in the Color Maryland Green contest. Secretary Mark Belton and I got to share in the awards process with some of Maryland’s most gifted young poets, artists and photographers. Lots of inspired staff, parents, and future environmental regulators and resource managers in the audience.
Meeting of Maryland Climate Change Commission steering committee. Lots of progress among the commission’s diverse membership in discussing actions surrounding the mitigation of greenhouse gases, mitigating the impacts of climate change, understanding the science behind the problems and solutions and boosting the education and outreach components.
MDE Stream Cleanup at Gwynns Falls trail and stream. Deputy Secretary Mary Tung, myself and several dozen staff pitched in with Friends of Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park to clean up a beautiful but stressed urban waterway and its nearby hiking and biking trail. Lots of plastic and other debris.
DNR Secretary Mark Belton and I joined two water and science leaders, Bruce Michael and Lee Currey, on a tour of Conowingo Dam on the Susquehanna River. We had candid and constructive discussions with Exelon officials on the role of hydropower in meeting Maryland’s clean energy needs and also the array of environmental impacts from the dam and the accumulation of sediment and nutrients behind the dam, particularly in relation to our Chesapeake Bay cleanup commitments. We saw fish ladders in action to facilitate the migration of shad and also met with UMCES students who were testing water and sediment quality as part of the new $3.5 million study on the relationship of the dam to Chesapeake Bay water quality.
Trash cleanup with Digital Harbor High School students in Baltimore. MDE was there with trash bags and assistance as about 25 students picked up litter on the school grounds and in the surrounding neighborhood. It was heartening to see so many residents of the neighborhood smiling and complimenting the students on their good works.
Earth, Water, and Faith conference in Annapolis. I am participating in a large gathering of interfaith leaders in Annapolis on the importance of citizen stewardship and collaboration to protect our divinely-beautiful natural habitat. Think green infrastructure to slow down, spread out and soak in the rain. Nonprofit organizations of all types, sizes and faiths can be leaders, above and beyond governmental agencies, to restore and protect what we cherish.
Can’t wait for next week.
IN THE NEWS
Chesapeake Bay Program: Data sharing arrangement could lead to reduced pollution from onsite wastewater systems
Representatives from states across the Bay region recently signed a cooperative accord that will help reduce the amount of nitrogen flowing from septic systems to local waterways.
Herald-Mail: Washington County shines in role as state’s solar “powerhouse”
Maryland’s top environmental official said Washington County is quickly becoming known as “Solar County, Maryland” thanks to its completed solar projects with more on the way.
AIR, LAND, WATER – DID YOU KNOW?
Applications being accepted for Maryland Green Registry Leadership Awards
The Maryland Green Registry is now accepting applications for the sixth annual Maryland Green Registry Leadership Awards. Interested organizations should submit an application highlighting their sustainable environmental practices and the measurable results achieved, as well as information about their organization’s commitment to continual improvement in sustainable operations. The Registry is a free program that assists businesses and other organizations by promoting and recognizing sustainable practices. Collectively, Registry members have saved more than $79 million annually through sustainable practices. Applications are due by May 15.
MDE accepting applications for 2015 Environmental Science Student Award and Internship Program
The Award recognizes high school seniors who have excelled in environmental science both inside and outside the classroom. Students who have demonstrated extraordinary leadership and participation in environmental projects in school or their community such as recycling drives, school beautification projects, stream or litter cleanups and other types of environmental projects are encouraged to apply. The grand prize winner will receive a paid internship at MDE during summer 2015. The second-place winner will receive $500 and the third-place winner will receive $250.
The deadline for nominations is May 1. Application forms and instructions are available on MDE’s website and may be submitted by email to Nadine.Jackson-Bey@maryland.gov or by mail to: Maryland Department of the Environment, Office of the Secretary, 1800 Washington Boulevard, 7th Floor, Baltimore MD 21230, Attention: Nadine Jackson-Bey.
Take the Compost Challenge
Did you know that food scraps and yard waste make up nearly a third of the municipal waste stream? Food waste reduction and composting offer a viable solution (and a nutrient-rich soil supplement), and a growing number of Maryland Green Registry and Maryland Green Travel members have been leading the way. Your business or organization is invited to join the Registry — and take the Compost Challenge.
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Our mission is to protect and restore the quality of Maryland’s air, water, and land resources, while fostering smart growth, a thriving and sustainable economy and healthy communities.