Wednesday 22 May 2019

Fair Farms Campaign (8)

With the 2018 Maryland Session coming to a close earlier this month, we’d like to let you know about the important legislative victories we achieved along with some of the policies we may revisit in 2019. Over the past few months, Waterkeepers Chesapeake partnered with Maryland waterkeepers and other environmental organizations in the General Assembly to increase public access to government records, increase public participation at the Public Service Commission (PSC), prevent the use of harmful chemicals, decrease the amount of foam in local waterways, and close loopholes under current law that enable the net loss of forests in Maryland -- to name a few.   Legislative Victories Thanks to the work of Fair Farms and others, we were able to secure funding for the Maryland Farms and Families program.The Maryland General Assembly included $200,000 in the final budget for this program that matches purchases made by low-income Marylanders using federal nutrition assistance like SNAP (food stamps) at participating farmers markets. While the Governor still needs to allocate the funds for this program -- you can ask him to do so here -- we are now one step closer to having Maryland fund a successful program that directly supports small farmers, food-insecure Marylanders, and our local economy. This past session the General Assembly also legalized hemp production in Maryland. Hemp has a number of benefits for our environment, provides a new income stream for farmers, diversifies our state’s agricultural system, and may bring new jobs and opportunities to Maryland. You…
Dominion Energy’s Coal Ash Pond Pollution In Virginia, both the James and Potomac Rivers are being severely impacted by coal ash pollution. Earlier this summer, the James River Association (JRA) objected to Dominion Energy’s draft permit to dewater coal ash ponds at Dominion’s Chesterfield Power Station on the Lower James River. Lower James Riverkeeper Jamie Brunkow points out in public comments that the permit fails to protect the river and its ecosystems, while threatening public health. More recently, JRA, along with Southern Environmental Law Center took samples at four locations near the Chesterfield Station. The results revealed high levels of coal ash contaminants, like zinc, nickel, copper, lead and arsenic in the water. This month, a Virginia state board will vote on the draft permit governing the dewatering of the Chesterfield coal ash ponds. In addition, Potomac Riverkeeper Network’s challenge of the wastewater permit for Dominion’s Possum Point plant, on Quantico Creek near the Potomac River, goes to court later this month. Tests show coal ash contaminants in drinking water wells near Possum Point. READ MORE… Sewage Overflows in Baltimore City Back in 2002, Baltimore City entered into a binding agreement (a consent decree) with the U.S. Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to fix its failing sewage system by January 2016. The agreement required Baltimore City to repair essential infrastructure in the City’s sewage system to prevent raw sewage from entering waterways and neighborhoods – bringing Baltimore City into compliance with the Clean Water Act. Although Baltimore City made some progress in the intervening 14…

Do You Know Where Your Fruit’s Been?

By Betsy Nicholas, July 22, 2016, The Baltimore Sun A plump, juicy peach; an ear of crisp sweet corn; a ruby red tomato just picked from the vine — summer produce abounds on Maryland dining room tables this time of year. Fresh fruits and vegetables are important parts of our diets and an important part of our Maryland heritage. But do you know where your produce comes from?