Montgomery Group

The Montgomery County Group focuses on local issues, including improving public transit, maintaining clean water sources, supporting and monitoring the county's Climate Protection Plan, and endorsing and supporting green candidates. The Executive Committee of the Montgomery Group meets the third Monday of each month.  Please contact our chair Dave Sears (davidwsears@aol.com) if you'd like to join us.

 

 

5/18/15 Two victories in one week! Last week the County Council sided with Sierra Club MoCo on two key climate change issues- maintaining the current County energy tax and adding two energy program managers to the Office of Sustainability, a doubling of the staff working to increase clean energy.

Sierra Club MoCo testified against reducing the energy tax, the only testimony that opposed reducing the tax. The others testifying - various Chambers of Commerce and other commercial interests - all favored reducing the energy tax in an amount that would have cost the County about $12 million in revenue and weakened incentives for energy conservation. The energy tax is as close to a carbon tax as we have.

The vote was narrow - 5 to 4 - with Councilmembers Elrich, Hucker, Navarro, Riemer and Rice voting against reducing the tax.

On staffing in the Office of Sustainability, Sierra Club MoCo began lobbying to expand the number of energy managers once the Department of Environmental Protection released its Report showing that energy use was growing in MoCo - despite the County’s pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The County Executive did not support additional positions for the Office.  But Councilmember Berliner scheduled a worksession of the Council’s Transportation and Energy Committee to address the implications of the Report. Sierra Club MoCo, the only group outside the government asked to testify, argued for funding additional staff to counteract the increasing energy use documented in the Department’s Report.

The final budget reflected the addition of two new energy positions – a residential energy manager to promote clean residential energy and an energy outreach specialist to work with civic and other community groups on expanding energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Thanks to all who wrote and called their Councilmembers!  These were true victories in tough budget times.

Testimony of Montgomery County Sierra Club

Montgomery County MD, County Council Transportation and Environment Committee

4/16/15

 

Thank you, Chairman Berliner and Councilmembers for holding this briefing on the status of greenhouse gas emission reduction in Montgomery County.  My name is Michal Freedman and I am here as a member of the Montgomery County Sierra Club Executive Committee, representing the more than 5,000 Sierra Club members in Montgomery County.

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December 2014

Rainwater becomes polluted runoff as it washes over the built environment picking up chemicals, bacteria, trash and sediment.  Polluted runoff is a major factor pushing many of our state’s waterways – including the Chesapeake Bay - to the brink of death. That is why the federal Clean Water Act requires jurisdictions to protect and restore rivers and streams[DC1] by reducing and eliminating polluted runoff -- and why property owners pay a Water Quality Protection Charge, a.k.a. ‘stormwater fees’ to fund this longtime federal mandate.   

The bigger your house and driveway, the bigger your fee, which is directly linked to the square footage on your property that is preventing rainwater from filtering naturally through the soil. 

While under political attack as a ‘rain tax’, these stormwater fees finance critical infrastructure.  Stormwater fees pay for programs that stem the flow of stormwater.  This is critical to maintaining our roads, bridges and sewer lines in good working order, since these comprise our business-critical infrastructure that is regularly damaged by the raging floods caused or worsened by urban polluted runoff.   Creating locally-controlled funds of hundreds of millions of dollars, the fees are an enormous opportunity to set our counties and cities on the path to real sustainability. That is why the Sierra Club’s State Water Team recently organized Clean Water Town Halls – entitled Leaving the Gray Behind: Clean Water, Green Jobs & Climate Resilience - in close collaboration with the Prince George’s and Montgomery County groups held earlier this month.  “It is essential that the public understands the importance of the program as well as the excellent public benefits that result from investing these funds in smart green best practices,” said Linda Schade, who helped organized the Town Halls.  

Clean Water Act requirements are implemented through MS-4 permits (Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System) that set customized five-year goals for each county or large municipality.  Both Town Halls emphasized the green solutions and positive benefits resulting from a green infrastructure approach to runoff reduction. 

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