Md. must promote clean energy and wetlands

The article "Law bars homeowner from installing solar panels on pier" (April 16) underscores the need for Maryland to find ways we can increase clean, renewable energy while also protecting wetlands and critical areas.

The Department of the Environment applauds individual efforts to reduce air emissions by using solar power. Maryland's wetlands law, though, prevents development that is detrimental to wetland resources, such as submerged aquatic vegetation, and does not allow building or placing items on piers that are not required to be over water.

The permit application highlighted by The Sun exemplifies the growing interest in installing energy-generating devices like solar panels and wind turbines on Maryland's shorelines and piers. Changes to existing laws that protect our wetlands need a comprehensive policy and an understanding of all implications. MDE has initiated a review and it will be complete by the end of summer.

Maryland is a national leader on clean, green energy. Our state has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by 2020, to reducing per-capita energy consumption 15 percent by 2015, and to increasing our renewable energy portfolio standards to 20 percent by 2022.

Maryland must reap the environmental and economic benefits of clean energy while protecting our wetlands — we can and should do both.

Shari T. Wilson, Baltimore

The writer is secretary of the Maryland Department of the Environment.

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