Environment

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NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (AP) - The federal government is giving Virginia nearly $2.7 million to help manage its coastline.

The Daily Press in Newport News reports that the money will help reduce flooding and pollution while improving fisheries and wildlife habitats.

The funding is being award by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. And it will be matched by state and local governments.

The money is being distributed through the state's Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program, a network of state and local agencies.

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WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - Chemical company DuPont has agreed to pay nearly $400 million to settle environmental lawsuits ahead of its planned merger with the Dow Chemical Co.

The Delaware-based company agreed last week to pay more than $50 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the federal government and the State of Virginia over the release of mercury from a former facility in Waynesboro, Virginia.

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Governor John Carney signed measure that amends Delaware’s Coastal Zone Act that would allow development of 14 former and current heavy industrial sites.

Carney called the law a win-win opportunity for the First State that would make for a cleaner environment as well as provide additional jobs to Delaware’s economy.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that it has been praised by business groups but has been condemned by environmentalists.

All but one of the industrial sites are located in New Castle County.

Don Rush

The Nanticoke River has received a grade of C+ from an environmental group.

This is down from the Nanticoke Watershed Alliance report in 2015.

WBOC reports that the downgrade is probably due to localized rain fall during the summer and fall of 2016.

In addition, samples at the Transquaking River showed high bacteria levels than in the past indicating human activity including septic tank or other sewage leakage.  

Over 40 citizen scientists participated in the monitoring taking samples and measurements every other week from late March through early November.  

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - A proposal to open Delaware's environmentally protected coastal zone to new heavy industry has cleared its first legislative hurdle.

The bill cleared a House committee Wednesday despite complaints from environmental groups and other opponents about the lack of public input.

The bill establishes a permitting process for new use of 14 existing industry sites, including abandoned and polluted brownfields.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Several environmental groups are suing the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality over part of the permitting process for two proposed natural gas pipelines.

The Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition, Bold Alliance and Preserve Craig Inc. filed suit this week in Richmond Circuit Court. They're challenging an approval DEQ granted in April that allows the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct the broader of two types of water quality reviews for the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - A proposal to open Delaware's environmentally protected coastal zone to new heavy industry is getting its first hearing in the legislature.

A House committee hearing on the bill was set for Wednesday amid opposition from several environmental groups.

The bill establishes a permitting process for new use of 14 existing industry sites, most of them abandoned and polluted brownfields.

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WASHINGTON (AP) - The Trump administration is moving forward on seismic surveys in the Atlantic Ocean, the first step toward offshore drilling in a region where it has been blocked for decades.

The Interior Department says it is reviewing six applications by energy companies that were rejected by the Obama administration.

Environmental groups and many East Coast lawmakers oppose the surveys, saying loud sounds from seismic air guns could hurt marine life.

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WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - Delaware Gov. John Carney has joined 11 other governors in writing a letter to President Donald Trump urging him to keep the U.S. in the Paris Climate Agreement to reduce carbon pollution and combat climate change.

Carney says the effects of climate change are already taking a toll on Delawareans, and that as a low-lying coastal state, Delaware is vulnerable to damage from sea level rise, stronger storm surges, and routine flooding.

Carney says the threats will only increase without a concerted effort to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

Don Rush

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Dominion Virginia Power says despite the current uncertainty over Obama-era environmental regulations, it is committed to increasing the amount of electricity it generates from solar power in the coming decades.

Virginia's largest utility laid out its long-range forecast of electricity demand and production Monday in a regulatory filing called an integrated resource plan.

The company says it plans to add at least 5,200 megawatts of new solar generation in the next 25 years.

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WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump plans to sign an executive order that could lead to the expansion of drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans.

Trump will order his interior secretary to review an Obama-era plan that dictates which locations are open to offshore drilling, with the goal of the new administration to expand operations.

Delaware Center for Inland Bays

A Delaware task force says that the state needs to do more to clean up its waterways.

So, it has proposed that the First State’s residents shell out $40 to $80 a year to pay for it.

This would be added to an individual’s income taxes with a $45 surcharge on business license fees.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that officials say that would raise around $20 million each year.

That money would then go to deal with cleaning up pollution and investment in infrastructure.

DNREC

There will be a new Aquatic Resources Education Center to replace an older facility at the edge of the Delaware Bay Marsh.

The announcement was made yesterday by Governor John Carney during a ceremony where he was joined by Senator Chris Coons and Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester.

The governor praised the state’s Bayshore Region as a unique destination for ecotourism and outdoor recreation.

EPA

DOVER, Del. (AP) - The state Senate has approved Gov. John Carney's nominee to lead Delaware's environmental agency, more than a month after a vote was postponed amid Republican opposition.

Shawn Garvin, a former regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency was confirmed on a 14-to-5 vote Wednesday to lead Delaware's Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.

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DELAWARE CITY, Del. (AP) - A state board has dismissed an appeal filed against a project that is going to significantly increase the amount of biofuel being stored at and shipped from a Delaware City refinery.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that the Coastal Zone Industrial Control Board voted 5-1 Monday to toss the case, ruling that the two civic groups who brought the appeal did not show their members would suffer direct harm from the project.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Members of the legislature's Joint Finance Committee are continuing their review of state agency budgets and spending requests as they continue to lay the foundation for a budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
    
The committee is to resume hearings Monday with presentations by the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families.
    

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Perriello says if elected he'll work to block construction of two proposed natural gas pipelines.

Perriello announced his opposition to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline at a Richmond news conference Wednesday.

The former congressman said the proposed pipelines, which have drawn opposition from environmentalists and property owners, are a bad investment and Virginia should instead focus on energy efficiency measures and renewable energy.

Joe biden, us.gov

NEWARK, Del. (AP) - Now that he's left the White House, former Vice President Joe Biden will split his time between programs at the University of Delaware and the University of Pennsylvania.

Officials announced Tuesday that Biden will establish a new domestic policy institute at the University of Delaware and will head a foreign policy institute for the University of Pennsylvania. The foreign policy center will be located in Washington, D.C., but Biden also will have an office on the Penn campus in Philadelphia.

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A measure to tighten up environmental regulations on large chicken operations has been introduced in the Maryland General Assembly.

State Senator Richard Madaleno (D) has authored a bill that would require the Maryland Department of the Environment to identify and monitor all air pollution emitted from these facilities.

They’re known as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations or CAFO’s.

And, they have stirred up strong opposition on the Eastern Shore where longtime residents have complained about the new facilities that have arrived in their backyard.

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Senator Ben Cardin says he will oppose the nomination of former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Maryland Democrat says that he is concerned about whether Pruitt truly believes in the EPA’s mission to protect the public health and environment.

Cardin said he does not understand why Pruitt would want to head the agency after repeatedly suing and criticizing it.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - The Maryland House of Delegates has voted to override Gov. Larry Hogan's veto of a bill to boost the state's renewable energy standards.

The House voted 88-51 Tuesday for the override. The Senate is scheduled to vote on the Republican governor's veto Thursday. Last year, the Democrat-controlled Senate passed the bill 32-14, a margin above the 29 votes, or three-fifths, needed.

The measure would increase requirements to use energy sources like wind and solar to 25 percent by 2020. The state's renewable energy standard goal now is 20 percent by 2022.

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Senator Chris Van Hollen says he will vote against three of President Donald Trump’s cabinet nominations.

The Maryland Democrat says he will oppose Senator Jeff Sessions for Attorney General saying that he is trouble by his record on voting rights and the rights of women, minorities and the LGBT community.

He also said he did not believe that Sessions would provide an independent check on Trump’s push to bar Muslims from coming into the country.

Maryland’s Junior Senator said he opposed Chris Pruitt to head up the Environmental Protection Agency.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - A new report finds water clarity in the Chesapeake Bay is the best it's been in decades, and native rockfish, oyster and blue crab populations are rebounding as the overall health of the nation's largest estuary improves.
 
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation's biennial State of the Bay report gave the estuary a C-minus grade, an improvement from a D-plus two years ago. It's the highest score since the first report in 1998.
 

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - A panel of Maryland lawmakers is set to discuss proposed regulations for gas drilling in western Maryland.

The regulations proposed by the Maryland Department of the Environment will be taken up by the legislature's Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review.

Last month, environmental regulators opened a 30-day window for public comment on proposed hydraulic fracturing regulations that could be adopted by the end of this year. That would enable the state to permit drilling next October, unless the General Assembly intervenes.

Don Rush

Some 40 water systems across Delmarva have high levels of lead.

While the systems that serve 50-thousand people or more treat their water the risk is for the smaller systems.

The Salisbury Daily Times reports that the largest system affected is Tidewater Utilities which provides water to some 26-thousand people in Bethany Bay and Ocean View.

After Tidewater began treating its water the lead concentration quickly dropped to below the federal standard.

Erik Christensen / gnu

(AP) The controversy over drilling for oil in the Atlantic Ocean has been reignited by the election of Donald Trump.
 
Environmentalists and coastal businesses say it could be the first major fault line that divides them from the new president.
 
The Obama administration has moved to restrict offshore oil drilling leases in the Atlantic, as well as off Alaska.
 
But President-elect Trump says he intends to use all available fuel reserves for energy self-sufficiency.
 

Don Rush

A new environmental report says that improvement for habitat areas in the Delaware Inland Bays has stalled.

It also reports that the water quality in the bays is still rated fair or poor.

WBOC says that the report by the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays found the largest non-point source of nutrient pollution came from fertilizers, animal waste and storm water runoff.  

But the report notes that of the original 13 point sources of discharges into the bay are only two left.

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HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) - Opponents of the natural gas drilling technique called hydraulic fracturing are holding events across the state as Maryland environmental regulators prepare to publish proposed rules for issuing permits starting in October.

The events include a rally Monday afternoon at the Baltimore office of Democratic state Sen. Joan Conway, who chairs the Senate's environmental committee. The Don't Frack Maryland Coalition is asking Conway to support a permanent ban on fracking.

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The stakes could be high for Delmarva when it comes to the effects of climate change in the wake of the election of Donald Trump to the White House.

The Republican has declared climate change “a hoax” perpetrated by the Chinese.

On the peninsula great efforts have gone into plans for dealing with the loss of coastline.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that the three states have serious vulnerable areas ranging from the wetlands along the Delaware Bay Shore and the Chesapeake Bay to Virginia’s coastal barrier islands.

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MILTON, Del. (AP) - State and federal officials are celebrating a restoration project at Delaware's Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell planned to join Gov. Jack Markell and Sen. Tom Carper on Friday to tout one of the largest federally funded restoration projects on the Atlantic Coast.

The $38 million project restored 4,000 acres of coastal marsh and rebuilt existing dunes and barrier beach to improve natural defenses against storms and sea-level rise.

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