Baltimore Sun

Green bills wilting in Annapolis?

This year's General Assembly still has two weeks to go, but it looks like several high-profile environmental bills are in trouble.

Gov. Martin O'Malley's bid to boost development of industrial-scale wind projects off Maryland's Atlantic coast hasn't moved in either the House or Senate so far. The governor and environmentalists keep pressing for HB1054/SB861, but legislators appear wary of how much it will increase electricty rates. Meanwhile, a related administration bill, HB1227, to provide economic incentives for wind turbine manufacturers to locate in Maryland has been withdrawn.


Another gubernatorial priority - to limit development relying on septic systems - has effectively been sidetracked, with HB1107 earmarked for summer study by Del. Maggie McIntosh, chair of the House Environmental Matters Committee.

A couple non-administration bills that are priorities of green groups are faring better, but more remain in doubt.


On the budget, it appears the threat has been averted that lawmakers might permanently divert funding for buying parkland and playgrounds.

A bill that would delay drilling for natural gas in Maryland's Marcellus shale deposits for up to two years for more study passed the House. HB852 now awaits action in the Senate, which has already turned aside a bid by western Maryland's Sen. George Edwards to require the state Department of the Environment to complete its reivew of issues around hydraulic fracturing by the end of this year.

Legislation that would levy a nickel fee on throwaway plastic and paper store bags, HB1034, remains in committee, though.  And a bill that would ban arsenic in chicken feed, HB754, was killed by the House Environmental Matters panel.

One other "green" bill does seem to sprouting legs.  The House passed the Fertlizer Use Act of 2011, HB573, which would regulate the contents and application of lawn food.  It now awaits action in the Senate.

(State House, 2008 Baltimore Sun photo by Glenn Fawcett)