Environment

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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.

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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.

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(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.
 

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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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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Environmental activists are set to start a three-day protest outside Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe's office.

Activists plan a Monday news conference to call on McAuliffe to oppose proposed natural gas pipelines and push for stricter state requirements related to disposing coal waste byproduct.

The activists will then have a three day picket line outside the governor's office.

U.S. Army

FREDERICK, Md. (AP) - A federal judge has dismissed a $750 million class-action lawsuit alleging the Army's reckless handling of chemical and biological toxins caused death and illness among people living near Fort Detrick in Frederick.

The Frederick News-Post reports that U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake filed the dismissal notice Thursday in Baltimore.

She ruled that the plaintiffs had not met a threshold requirement of proving the Army lacked discretion over how to dispose of hazardous waste.

Chesapeake Conservancy website

LAUREL, Del. (AP) - The U.S. Navy has joined with environmentalists and state officials to purchase a 48-acre tract of land in Sussex County, expanding a corridor of protected land beneath airspace used for research at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland.

State officials said Tuesday that the Cod Creek property, a woodland tract along a tributary of the Nanticoke River, was purchased for $206,529. Funding came from the Department of Defense, Delaware's Open Space Program and the Chesapeake Conservancy.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Hundreds of protesters streamed into Virginia's capital city to criticize the Democratic governor's energy policies, including his support for a proposed natural gas pipeline.

Carrying signs that read "We won't pipe down," the group on Saturday also lambasted Gov. Terry McAuliffe's support for offshore oil drilling and for not trying to stop an electric company's release of treated coal ash water into rivers.

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GLOUCESTER POINT, Va. (AP) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released a report on the health of coastal wetlands in the nation, with the five-year effort revealing that wetlands in the coastal plains region, which includes Virginia, are slightly healthier than the nation overall.

The Daily Press reports that the EPA's survey shows that 50 percent of all wetland types in the region were in good health, 21 percent were in fair condition and 29 percent were in poor condition.

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There was another public forum on the debate over the arrival of mega chicken houses in Wicomico County.

It was held at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center last night by local government leaders.

But WBOC reports that when it was over many critics walked away unsatisfied.

There were representatives from the state departments of health, agriculture and the environment to answer questions from the public.

Don Rush

DOVER, Del. (AP) - State environmental officials are asking the Delaware Supreme Court to overturn a judge's ruling that invalidated sediment and stormwater regulations adopted over the past two years.

The judge ruled last year that the regulations were invalid because they required adherence to technical documents that were not subject to public hearings or comment under the state Administrative Procedures Act.

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There will be no moratorium on large chicken houses in Wicomico County.

Council president John Cannon told a meeting last night, that the council does not have enough information to impose one. 

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WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - Developer Joseph L. Capano Sr. has pleaded guilty to bank fraud and an environmental violation in connection with the construction of housing in in New Castle.

Local media report that the 74-year-old Capano enter the plea Monday in federal court in Wilmington.

Prosecutors say Capano used more than $145,000 in loan proceeds earmarked for building the Riverbend for personal purchases. According to his plea agreement, Capano admitted to ordering some construction of the residential development to go through protected wetlands.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - State environmental officials say that several sites will be off-limits to shellfish farmers as they move forward with permitting plans.
 
The Wilmington News Journal reports that state officials announced Wednesday that they are moving forward with plans for a statewide permit that would expedite the process for future shellfish famers.
 
Some of the areas that will be off-limits to farmers include Beach Cove in Indian River Bay and other near-shore sites in Little Assawoman Bay.
 

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - A measure supporters say would be the first in the country to help protect bees by taking certain pesticides off of store shelves has been approved by the Maryland Senate.

Senators voted 32-14 Wednesday for the Pollinator Protection Act. It now goes to the House.

The measure would limit pesticides containing neonicotinoids to certified applicators, farmers and veterinarians. Consumers would not be about to buy them in stores in 2018.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia's lieutenant governor is urging federal officials to exclude Virginia from offshore drilling.

In a letter addressed to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management on Thursday, Lt. Gov. Ralph S. Northam said offshore drilling has the potential to threaten the environment, defense, agriculture and tourism of the state.

Northam, a Democrat, has announced his plans to run for governor in 2017. In the letter, he cited the "demise of the Chesapeake Bay" and his work toward its restoration as one of the reasons he decided to run for public office.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The Virginia Senate has approved extending coal tax credits that critics say do a poor job of helping the state's coal country.

The upper chamber voted Monday to approve continuing two coal-related tax credits, which are set to expire shortly, to 2022. The measure was approved by a large margin, indicating that it would likely survive a veto by Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

Republican supporters of the measure said it was necessary to help Southwest Virginia's hard-hit coal industry.

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BALTIMORE (AP) - Seven people were arrested during a protest of a trash-burning power plant in south Baltimore.

The Baltimore Sun reports Tuesday's demonstration at the Maryland Department of the Environment headquarters was led by the Maryland chapter of the Sierra Club and United Workers. The groups oppose the construction of the Fairfield Renewable Energy Power Plant.

Police didn't release the identities of those arrested or their charges.

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Wicomico County could see the largest chicken operation to be built in the area just outside of Salisbury.

It would contain 13 poultry houses and would be located near Naylor Mill and North West roads to the northwest of the town.

The Salisbury Daily Times reports that the proposal has environmentalists rallying for a fight against the project.

They say it’s just part of a major move toward large poultry operations that began in Accomack and Somerset counties.

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