eMDE – Ben’s Blog: COP26; stormwater permits; lead awareness; PFAS; and more

 

 

Ben's Blog - Thoughts from Secretary Ben Grumbles

Maryland and Other State Programs Highlighted at Glasgow Global Summit

I had the honor of representing Maryland, the Hogan Administration, and MDE at the annual global summit on climate change, known as COP26 (Conference of the Parties for the 26th year) in Glasgow, Scotland, November 7-10.

What an opportunity to learn and engage with thousands of individuals from almost 200 countries, representing governments, nongovernmental organizations, academic institutions and corporations. Probably 20,000 people made the journey to engage, negotiate, observe, and/or protest.

I participated as a member of the Climate Registry, the Climate Action Reserve, and US Climate Alliance delegations and was joined by officials from a dozen other states for panel discussions, briefings, and meetings to promote economy-wide deep decarbonization, adaptation and resiliency, and investments in science and education. I highlighted Maryland’s ambitious greenhouse gas reduction and nature-based restoration and protection strategies for the Chesapeake Bay and beyond and scientific initiatives on ocean acidification and carbon sequestration (involving forests, soils, and coastal wetlands also known as “blue carbon.”) I met with other countries, businesses and academic institutions to discuss public and private partnerships for a greener economy in Maryland and around the world.

On behalf of the Governor, I underscored the importance of bipartisan environmental leadership at home and abroad. We can and must find ways to dramatically slash greenhouse gases while growing the economy and increasing the resilience of communities and ecosystems.

New agreements were made earlier in the summit to end deforestation and reduce methane emissions. Forests play a key role in absorbing carbon dioxide and slowing the rise in global temperatures.

The summit also served as a global platform for sharing a Maryland-based first of its kind technology for tracking the size and success of forests in pulling carbon pollution from the atmosphere. The carbon monitoring project resulted from a collaboration of the Maryland Department of the Environment, University of Maryland, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, and the World Resources Institute.

The project pioneers the use of high-resolution Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) data, ecosystem modeling, and satellite imagery in measuring annual changes in forest carbon.

Forests already store the largest quantity of carbon in the state, removing about 10% of what is emitted annually. Maryland will be using results of this project in its greenhouse gas inventory and to help measure annual progress toward the state climate goals of 50% reduction in emissions by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2045.

I also had the opportunity to describe to others the work of the independent Maryland Commission on Climate Change, which is staffed by MDE’s lean, green, and mighty climate change program within the Air and Radiation Administration. The Commission adopted comprehensive recommendations on mitigation, adaptation, and resiliency actions on Nov. 1 (Click here). There were also several opportunities to describe Maryland’s strong support for and participation in the nation’s first “cap and invest” program for the energy sector, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) which has grown over the last two years to 11 states, as well as Maryland’s recent commitment to be the first state to partner with the U.S. Department of Energy’s new National Climate Challenge.

Some of my favorite moments involved panel discussions allowing me to:

  • tout the work of MDE, DNR, MDA, MDOT, MDP, DGS, DHCD, MDEM and local governments on climate adaptation and resilience throughout Maryland
  • describe our state’s initiatives on ocean and coastal health, including the Chesapeake Bay and the Ocean Acidification Alliance
  • demonstrate our state’s commitment to offshore wind, the SMARTPOWER agreement among Governors Hogan, Northam(VA), and Cooper (NC)
  • catch up with former MDE Secretary Jane Nishida, in her new role as EPA Assistant Administrator and State leaders at the U. S. Climate Center for international and tribal affairs, while engaging with the EPA Administrator


As much as I enjoyed the four days in Glasgow, I was delighted to return to Maryland and the Maryland Department of the Environment, which has just finalized important new stormwater permits for large counties incorporating additional requirements for green infrastructure and watershed management and issuing a broader plan for climate resiliency throughout the department’s water and science programs.

• Air, Land, Water – Did You Know?

MDE issues stormwater permits for large Maryland jurisdictions, advances climate resiliency and equity

MDE has issued a series of municipal stormwater permits to advance Chesapeake Bay restoration while reducing flooding and making communities more resilient to the effects of climate change.

The municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) permits were issued earlier this month for Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore and Montgomery counties. The permits build upon and improve pollution prevention under prior permits and require local jurisdictions to not only keep pace but do more to help Maryland meet its Chesapeake Bay restoration plan requirements. The five-year permits are issued under the federal Clean Water Act.

Climate change results in more frequent and intense storms and more extreme flooding events that are impacting our communities. In response to these challenges, MDE has released a report, “Advancing Stormwater Resiliency in Maryland,” that provides a roadmap toward modernizing stormwater management in Maryland.

“Aggressive and achievable stormwater requirements for large Maryland jurisdictions are a critical part of our comprehensive, science-based plan for restoring the Chesapeake Bay,” said Maryland Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles. “MDE’s new municipal stormwater permits, along with our new climate action plan and innovative financing strategies for stormwater management, will help prevent stormwater pollution, reduce flooding and increase climate resiliency and equity to help ensure healthy watersheds and a green and growing Maryland economy.”

MDE has also issued a draft MS4 permit for Prince George’s County.  MDE will hold a public hearing 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Dec. 15 at the Prince George’s County Department of the Environment’s 1st Floor Conference Room, 1801 McCormick Drive, Largo, MD 20774. Written comments will be accepted through Feb. 4, 2022.

More information on MS4 permits is available on MDE’s website.

Maryland highlights lead poisoning prevention

MDE together with the Maryland Department of Health and the Department of Housing and Community Development, urges Marylanders to continue to be vigilant in working toward eliminating childhood lead poisoning.

The agencies remind Marylanders of the importance of getting children tested for possible exposure to lead – and that resources are available to help protect families. At recent event, one Baltimore County family’s experience with lead poisoning and remediation highlighted how the state is working to reduce lead hazards for all Marylanders.

Woman painting wall

“When we found out my son had lead poisoning, we didn’t know what to do,” said Magain Fitzgerald, whose 2-year-old son tested positive for high lead levels in his blood, affecting his behavior and development. “I am so glad that someone reached out to us to let us know there were resources which could help us.”

Governor Larry Hogan proclaimed Oct. 24-30 Lead Poisoning Prevention Week in Maryland.

Read more.

MDE issues first fish consumption advisory for PFAS

MDE has issued its first fish consumption advisory based on levels of a chemical compound in a class known as PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances).

MDE issued guidelines for eating three species of fish caught in Piscataway Creek in Prince George’s County after sampling fish there and completing a scientific review of health risks posed by levels of PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate), one of the more widely studied PFAS chemicals. The recommended monthly limits are for redbreast sunfish and yellow bullhead catfish in the non-tidal portion of Piscataway Creek and largemouth bass in the tidal headwaters of Piscataway Creek.

Fish Consumption Advisory Map - Check for fish consumption advisories in your location at the press of a button!

“Maryland is committed to reducing the risks of PFAS chemicals in our state and continuing our close coordination with scientific, local, state and federal partners,” said Maryland Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles. “Our focus on PFAS in fish tissue and the resulting consumption advisory is another step forward in understanding, communicating, and reducing the potential for harm.”

MDE is putting a priority on the implementation of a science-based comprehensive plan for PFAS risk that is focused first on determining whether there are locations in Maryland where there are unacceptable risks to human health associated with exposures to PFAS and whether there are locations of continuing releases of PFAS compounds.

Read more at mde.maryland.gov/MDandPFAS.

MDE acts to advance clean and renewable energy at redevelopment sites

MDE is moving to encourage the development of clean and renewable energy projects on abandoned or under-utilized waste sites in need of environmental cleanup.

MDE would promote green energy projects by waiving fees that are normally required under the agency’s program to oversee redevelopment of brownfield sites. The fee waiver, which would be offered to applicants that plan to use the property to generate clean or renewable energy, is included in a proposed regulation that was published today in the Maryland Register.

The proposed regulation, now open for public comment, would implement Hogan administration legislation that was passed in 2020 following a recommendation from the Governor’s Task Force on Renewable Energy Development and Siting. Earlier this month, the Hogan administration announced four principles for environmental legislation regarding the Chesapeake Bay, climate change, and clean and renewable energy.

“Maryland is committed to clean and renewable energy progress and a thriving green economy,” said Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles. “By waiving certain fees, we can boost smart redevelopment at brownfield sites to meet our climate goals while conserving green fields and sensitive ecosystems. This is one of many ways to advance the Hogan administration’s environmental principles.”

• In the News

WJZ-TV: Maryland Zoo Replaces Diesel-Powered Shuttles With All-Electric Fleet

Stop by the Maryland Zoo sometime soon and you’ll notice a new fleet of shuttles is now available to cart visitors around the park.

The zoo announced this week it has replaced its diesel-powered shuttles with three all-electric vehicles, a move that will not only save an estimated $30,000 a year in fuel costs but also shrink the zoo’s carbon footprint.

Go to the story

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