Legislature Must Support
The 2011 session of the Maryland General
Assembly opened January 12, only two weeks
after the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency put Maryland and other Bay states on
a significant pollution diet. That means that in
the coming months and years, Maryland lawmakers must help find ways to reduce water
CBF urges Maryland
legislators to step up Bay-saving
efforts to meet EPA-imposed
receiving the first permit in the state for such
The action by EPA, taken after the states came
up well short of their Chesapeake 2000 goals
to restore the Bay, comes as Maryland faces a
$1.6 billion budget gap.
CBF is urging legislators to maintain funding
for Bay clean-up programs, many of which
already have been scaled back, and also to use
cost effective tools such as requiring farmers
who plant corn or who apply manure on their
fields to plant winter cover crops. The state
currently pays farmers to plant cover crops to
soak up excess nutrients which might otherwise pollute the Bay. Lawmakers also must
consider outlawing large subdivisions in rural
areas that depend on septic systems.
Drilling companies claim the process is safe, but
a number of scientists and public health experts
have questioned the claim. In areas such as
Pennsylvania that currently allow the technology, drillers frequently violate their permits. The
Pennsylvania Land Trust Association reported
that between January 2008 and August 20,
2010, there were 1,641 permit violations, with
1,056 of those violations “likely to harm the
environment.” Preliminary studies by the
Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences suggest the sheer number of well pads in a region
can degrade water quality, even if drillers are
doing everything right.
Funding for continued upgrades at the state’s
67 major sewage treatment plants, as well as
upkeep and improvements in local stormwater
treatment systems, must also be found in
order to meet the EPA’s diet, officially called
the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), for
the Bay. Because costs have exceeded revenues, the “flush fee” paid by all Marylanders
for sewage plant upgrades will have insufficient funds by 2012 to finish the work at several of the largest plants.
Problems in Pennsylvania also raise concerns
about potential contamination of local drinking
water; harm to forests and habitats; costly stress
on roads, bridges, and other infrastructure used
by drillers; and other issues.
uFor more information, visit cbf.org/re-041310.
©2010 GARTH LENZ/ILCP
uFor more information, visit cbf.org/re-122910.
CBF Supports Gas Drilling Legislation
CBF is supporting legislation placing new controls on Marcellus Shale drilling permits in
Maryland and requiring the state to develop
safety regulations and oversight measures for
this economically promising, but potentially
environmentally harmful, way of extracting natural gas. The legislation has been proposed by
state Delegate Heather R. Mizeur (District 20).
An Oklahoma company reportedly is close to
CBF wants Maryland to put measures in place
to ensure that drilling for natural gas is
environmentally safe before drilling begins.
CBF and the Baltimore Harbor Waterkeeper filed a
federal lawsuit against the current (Severstal) and
former owners of the Sparrows Point steel plant
(seen above), which has illegally discharged
hazardous waste for decades.
©2010 GARTH LENZ/ILCP
CBF Lawsuit Against Steel Plant
In July 2010, CBF and the Baltimore Harbor
Waterkeeper filed a federal lawsuit against the
current (Severstal) and former owners of the
Sparrows Point steel plant, which has illegally
discharged hazardous waste for decades. In a
separate dispute, Severstal argues that former
owner Bethlehem Steel’s bankruptcy extinguished Severstal’s obligation to comply with
the terms of a 1997 settlement agreement
between the plant, EPA, and the state of
Maryland. That agreement requires Severstal
to investigate offshore pollution from the
facility and clean it up if contamination levels
are too high. Because a decision on this issue
has implications for the July 2010 lawsuit,
CBF has asked to intervene.
As part of its dispute, Severstal demanded
that EPA provide all documents that relate to
the bankruptcy and the settlement. The
court held a hearing on December 20 and
determined that Severstal’s request was
improper as those documents had nothing
to do with EPA’s demand for compliance.
Presiding Judge Motz clearly understood the
issue to be resolved: the effect of bankruptcy
on the obligations outlined in the agreement.
He denied Severstal’s document demand
and ordered that the parties file briefs and
argue the merits of their respective positions
on March 11. The court will rule on CBF’s
motion to intervene at that time.
uFor more information on how CBF is
working to protect Maryland waters, visit
cbf.org/Maryland or call 410/268-8816.