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Maryland Department of the Environment

MDE enforcement leads to financial penalty, funding for environmental project serving Brandywine


MDE settlement with power plant owner PSEG Keys Energy Center requires $125,000 financial penalty, $75,000 for Patuxent Riverkeeper-led program

BALTIMORE (Feb. 1, 2022) – A Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) enforcement action against the owner of a Prince George’s County power plant includes a significant financial penalty and a requirement to help fund an environmental education program serving students from communities near the facility.

A settlement of alleged air pollution violations by PSEG Keys Energy Center LLC requires the facility to pay a $125,000 civil penalty to MDE and provide $75,000 for an environmental program led by the Patuxent Riverkeeper. The alleged violations occurred at the PSEG Keys Energy-owned power plant in the Brandywine area of Prince George’s County. The program is to serve environmentally overburdened minority communities in that area.

“The Maryland Department of the Environment is committed to clean air and environmental justice,” said Maryland Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles. “This enforcement action ensures accountability and creates opportunity for Brandywine and other nearby communities threatened by pollution.”

MDE alleged a series of air pollution violations at the PSEG Keys Energy plant, including exceedances of emissions limits for particulate pollution from late September through early December 2019 and of the facility’s carbon monoxide limit during a startup in July 2020. MDE also alleged that the plant failed to conduct a required analysis to optimize performance of its boiler.

The January 19 settlement agreement requires the plant owner to pay the financial penalty to MDE within 90 days. The settlement agreement states that the plant has taken corrective actions to resolve the allegations and made physical and operational changes that reduce their chance of recurrence.

That settlement also requires a $75,000 payment to EarthReports Inc., trading as the Patuxent Riverkeeper, for a Supplemental Environmental Project that serves people, organizations or communities in the vicinity of the PSEG plant, including the Brandywine area of Prince George’s County.

The settlement money is to be used toward the Patuxent Summer Skills Boot Camp, a series of intensive outdoor experiences in warm weather months where young people in Brandywine and the vicinity can experience the natural environment and acquire outdoor skills that build confidence and personal character while reinforcing important values and knowledge, including environmental stewardship. The program aims to make the experience of a summer camp available to young people who would not otherwise have such opportunities, either for reasons of prohibitive expense or lack of cultural traditions for being outdoors and experiencing nature firsthand. Stewardship projects such as trash cleanups, water monitoring, and other hands-on pursuits will feature prominently. At least $1,000 of the funds will be used to plant trees in the Brandywine area. The initial grant funds will serve as seed money for buying equipment and supplies and to offset some incidental expenses for those who volunteer as camp educators, and to purchase a used vehicle to transport students to and from the various learning module sites on and near the Patuxent River. The long-term goal is for the program to become self-sufficient through fees and funding support from various other sources in the future.

A partnership with the Prince George’s County public schools’ William S. Schmidt Outdoor Education Center assures that the project will have the support of, and synchronicity with, the local outdoor school curriculum, which in turn will assure a steady supply of young learners to participate. Other partners in the program are the Audubon Naturalist Society’s Taking Nature Black and Naturally Latinos programs and the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.

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