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by Mary C. Corddry | 2010

Following is a roundup of what’s happening with the nine Sierra Club groups in Maryland: Anne Arundel County, Catoctin, Eastern Shore, Greater Baltimore, Howard County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Southern Maryland, and Western Maryland. If you have information to contribute to future “Roundups” for the Chesapeake newsletter, please contact Mary Corddry at XxDiTz4LyFxX@aol.com or at 410-239-4590.

Group News Roundup

 

Edited by Mary C. Corddry—Following is a roundup of what’s happening with the nine Sierra Club groups in Maryland: Anne Arundel County, Catoctin, Eastern Shore, Greater Baltimore, Howard County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Southern Maryland, and Western Maryland. If you have information to contribute to future “Roundups” for the Chesapeake newsletter, please contact Mary Corddry at XxDiTz4LyFxX@aol.com or at 410-239-4590.

Sierra Club groups worked hard at identifying candidates to support for this year’s elections and are now planning for the upcoming state legislative session, identifying local priorities. Groups are active in the Sierra Club’s “Cool Cities” initiative, encouraging local governments and citizens to take action to address global climate change. They are involved with local land use and environmental issues, following local government activities and participating on advisory committees and at hearings. They volunteer to eradicate invasive plants, plant native species, maintain trails, and clean up streams. They enjoy the environment by hiking, biking, paddling, stargazing, camping, and backpacking. They discuss environmental issues and socialize at dinners, picnics, slide shows, movies, and speaker series.

There is something for everyone. Contact your group to get involved with your favorite issue or activity. Find a link to each group’s website at the chapter’s website, www.maryland.sierraclub.org.

 

Anne Arundel Group

Chair: David Prosten, 410-263-6341 or 410-703-0847, dprosten@yahoo.com

 

By David Prosten

Annual Potluck Dinner

Former U.S. Representative Wayne Gilchrest, a heroic advocate for the environment during his 18 years in the House of Representatives, will be the guest speaker at the Anne Arundel Group’s annual potluck dinner in Annapolis on January 22. All Maryland Sierrans and their friends are invited.

Representative Gilchrest, a moderate Republican who represented Maryland’s 1st District from 1990 to 2008, compiled a strong record of leadership in his support of programs designed to help the Bay and its tributaries. He routinely won the endorsement of the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations and frequently served as a bridge between the environmental community and more conservative members of the House’s Republican caucus.

The dinner is open to all. The cost is $7 for adults and $3 for children (to cover hall rental, beverages, and other basics). Each group is asked to bring a dish large enough for their party plus one more. Tickets may be purchased online with a credit card or at the door with cash or check. To purchase tickets online, go to the Anne Arundel Group’s web site at http://maryland.sierraclub.org/annearundel/eventscalendar.html.

 

The group hosted a highly successful forum about offshore wind power on October 20, bringing together experts from government and industry to tell the community about the status of a proposal for an offshore wind farm off Ocean City. About 75 people attended the gathering at Annapolis High School. Program Chair Carmen Paral did a great job of coordinating the program. She also did a great job with a program at the school on November 15 about “Wild Utah! America’s Redrock Wilderness,” a film narrated by Robert Redford.

 

The group is supporting a suit by the Patuxent Riverkeeper organization, appealing the county’s approval of new zoning for the huge Arundel Gateway project near Fort Meade. To be located near Rt. 198 and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, the mixed-use project would cover 250 acres and include offices, shops, a hotel, and 1,600 units of townhouses and apartments. The suit is not protesting the development itself, but rather how the county council circumvented the county’s established zoning process to enable it to move forward. There were no public hearings on the rezoning and the public was frozen out of the process. Earl Bradley, an executive committee member of the Anne Arundel Group, submitted the suit, which is funded and organized by the Riverkeeper group.

 

Catoctin Group (Carroll, Frederick, and Washington Counties)

Chair: Dan Andrews, 410-857-4129, dooze@qis.net

 

By Gregor Becker

Elections

Locally, all of the Sierra Club’s endorsed candidates lost in the November elections. All three Catoctin counties will have five-member Republican boards of commissioners, following a national trend of Republican victories.

In Carroll County we might claim a victory in that four of five commissioner winners opposed the incinerator. In fact, in this year’s general election, 10 of 11 Carroll candidates opposed it and five of 11 Frederick candidates opposed it. However, incineration opposition mattered less than party in commissioner elections. The lone proponent, Dave Roush of the Westminster District 3, has lately expressed misgivings. This is probably due to criticism of his support for two of three big spending projects.

We cannot sugarcoat this overall loss. We endorsed some Republicans who lost. We are nonpartisan and support the candidates with the strongest environmental positions. Fiscal conservatives in Carroll County were appealing due to incinerator opposition, but some candidates discredited global warming or even see Sierra Club volunteers as unwitting agents of a United Nations plot to promote globalization and the so-called socialist agenda of sustainability. (See the article coauthored by Carroll County Commissioner-elect Richard Rothschild at http://tiny.cc/opgz9. This may be signaling an assault on the mayors’ climate protection agreement, signed by Carroll and Frederick Counties, Mt. Airy, Sykesville, Westminster, and Brunswick. The agreement is a non-binding pledge to pursue energy efficiency and support efforts to minimize climate change.)

 

Incinerator

The Catoctin Group has spent considerable resources on incineration opposition over the last five years. Among other efforts, we co-sponsored Dr. Paul Connett flying from Italy to speak in Frederick on the dangers of nanoparticles, and contributed to the No Incinerator billboard in Westminster. Saving public money is on our side in the incinerator battle and produced good discussions with some conservative candidates.

The Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority presented only one waste option, exposing this “state agency” as just a spokes-group for the incineration industry. Instead of bidding out the contract, we may pay NMWDA for 30 years of oversight for the first trash incinerator built in the U.S. in 15 years.

So now what? If Carroll pulls out, will they reduce, reuse, recycle . . . or just ship trash to Frederick as Washington County proposes? Will Carroll County learn from the Waste Not Recycling brigades’ efforts at the Maryland Wine Festival and other events?

I’m not bitter; I’m pragmatic. I was disappointed by the election results and the lack of popular support for incinerator alternatives but greatly inspired by individual efforts. In the end if an incinerator is built, we’ll all breathe the toxins. The toxic body burden will increase for frail as well as healthy adults and children, and also for all creation—cows in the field, fish in the stream, cropland, wild lands. A blood sample could confirm this, although nothing could easily trace it to “our incinerator.”  There are other incinerators, other sources blowing our way. Will children be at risk to breathe the air, the invisible toxic dump site?

 

Grassroots Participation

The electoral setback shouldn’t dampen spirits. We fought the good fight for health and sound fiscal policy. When Carroll County pulls out of a bad contract, will so-called fiscal conservatives in Frederick County proceed with an oversized trash magnet?  Just say no!

If you voted for incinerator opponents, thank you. And many thanks for precious volunteer time. A few members toiled mightily. This includes Catoctin Executive Committee members and a few other committed Sierra Club members, moms, and seniors who volunteered at local festivals to show that recycling really makes a difference. And thanks to those who contributed SC dues or candidate funds, distributed door-hangers, helped at booths, wrote letters to newspapers, checked out our website or the Waste Not sites, and voted. Special thanks to those like my 90-year-old friend, recently recovered from a broken hip, who voted. I have progressive multiple sclerosis, but my electric wheelchair and I helped Waste Not volunteers from both counties at the MD Wine Festival. My picture made the Carroll County Times along with pictures of other volunteers. The efforts of some weren’t included, but I salute you all! 

But please remember, if you want your local Sierra Club to be more than a paper tiger, you need to help, by voting  and by volunteering. Even a few hours would really help. If you want to make a difference, and as a Sierran we believe you do, send your member number, first and last name, and town of residence to Brigitte at bfortin@csc.com. We need members’ email addresses in order to communicate with you effectively. Or, you can check our website weekly for updates. Of course, I want to believe our members are activists who care about our legacy to coming generations. When you don’t email us or don’t vote a better planet, I do worry that we’re a paper tiger. Send Brigitte an email to let us know you voted or just to say hi.

 

Catoctin Group Excom Elections

The Catoctin Group announces elections for its Executive Committee. Elected Executive Committee members vote on officers and the group’s actions or positions on various topics. The two-year terms of the following Catoctin Group Executive Committee members expire at the end of 2011: Dan Andrews, Ken Eidel, Lew Sherm, Brigitte Fortin. We are having an election for three excom vacancies, with two-year terms expiring at the end of 2012. Please vote for no more than three of the following candidates:

 

 Amy Andrews: I am a lifelong resident of Carroll County, Maryland. I am a 2005 graduate of Westminster High School, 2009 graduate of Carroll Community College, and am now attending McDaniel College (majoring in communications). I am passionate about our Mother Earth and believe that every day is Earth Day!  I am passionate about fighting the Frederick County incinerator issue, composting, recycling, and being a steward of our Mother Earth. I look forward to your vote.

 

 Carolyn Puckett: I was born on the Cumberland Plateau area of Tennessee, one of the most ecologically diverse areas of the U.S. I fell in love with wildflowers at an early age and today grow many native plants from seeds. I enjoy volunteering at local nature centers to remove invasive weeds. Now that I’m retired, I want to contribute more to safeguarding our environment.

 

Karen Moody:As an avid hiker I recently completed the Sierra Club’s outings leader training. I’ve led Sierra Club outings to Bear Branch Nature Center and Gambrills State Park, and I am interested in exploring more of our area’s trails. I’d focus on increasing the number and variety of outings offered by our Group. This can increase membership and support group conservation activities. I currently teach biology and environmental science at Carroll and Harford Community Colleges. I teach about the local natural history, and try to get students involved through semester-long conservation projects. I’d like to put those skills to use for the Sierra Club.

 

We have two ways to vote! See page 23 for a paper ballot, and submit it with your ballot for the Maryland Chapter’s excom candidates, or email your vote to lorax4@carr.org with your SC member number. You’ll find your member number on your Sierra Club membership card, or right above your name on the address label of Chesapeake.

 

Eastern Shore (Cecil County and Eastern Shore Counties)

Chair: Don Grace, 410-352-3722, Don.Grace@mdsierra.org

 

The Eastern Shore Group of the Sierra Club meets on the third Tuesday of every month at the Wicomico Library located at 122 South Division Street in downtown Salisbury. The meetings start at 6:30 p.m. The group is working on the Sierra Club Cool Cities campaign to conserve energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions on the Eastern Shore. For further information, contact Don Grace at Don.Grace@mdsierra.org.

 

Greater Baltimore (Baltimore City and County, Harford County)

Chair: Chris Yoder, 410-466-2462, cncyoder@comcast.net

 

The Greater Baltimore Group’s outings program offers hikes and strolls of varied lengths and difficulty, including outings that are child and dog friendly. There are a variety of other activities including kayaking, camping, hayrides, stream cleanups, and tubing. Check the group’s web site for a schedule of outings and other events.

The Greater Baltimore Group has a Facebook group that you can join at http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=76458501970. Facebook will be updated with information about hikes, meetings, and public meetings relevant to the Sierra Club.

The Young Sierrans have a Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=51601732426

 

Howard County

Chair: Ken Clark, 301-725-3306, kenclark7@comcast.net

 

By Ken Clark—The most significant news is the removal of two dams on the Patapsco River. Removal of Union Dam has been completed, and removal of Simpkins Dam is beginning. As part of the Simpkins Dam removal, we are looking for volunteers to monitor effects of the movements of impounded sediments after major flooding events. Contact Ken Clark for details at 301-725-3306 or kenclark7@comcast.net.

The Howard County Group has a very active outings program, including frequent backpacking trips. Check the group’s web site for a schedule of outings and other events. You may contact Ken Clark about getting on an email listing of outings and events.

 

Montgomery County

Chair:  David Hauck, 301-270-5826, David.Hauck@maryland.sierraclub.org

 

By Jane Huff—In 2010 the Montgomery County Group of the Sierra Club continued to work to protect our environment by:

uuuuTestifying before the county council and county agencies

uuuuResearching and shaping legislation

uuuuMobilizing volunteers to take action

uuuuPartnering with key organizations and government departments

uuuuDelivering education programs

uuuuInforming members through publications

uuuuRegistering positions through letter writing and e-mail

In April we supported continued capital funding for the Metro. In a time of crisis for Metro, the Montgomery County Group has fought to ensure the future of our regional transit. Facing a large operating deficit, Metro contemplated crippling service cuts at the same time as major fare increases. A healthy Metro is essential to all of the Montgomery County Group’s transit and Smart Growth goals, such as the Purple Line. As part of the regional Sustainable Metro D.C., the Montgomery County Group worked to ensure Metro’s future. We urged the governor to commit a full $30 million to avoid service cuts, money which other jurisdictions would match. While Maryland only agreed to about half that, it was enough to avoid the worst cuts. Then came news that Maryland was delaying payment of $56 million in critical capital obligations and that a long-term capital budget agreement was in doubt. Redoubling our efforts in grassroots public education and insider lobbying, we turned our attention to the Washington Post’s editorials until we have largely reached our destination, at least for fiscal year 2011.

 In May we supported the Montgomery County Council’s vote for the carbon dioxide tax, to require sources in the county that generate more than one million tons of CO2 a year to pay $5.00 on every ton of carbon dioxide they produce. The only facility that exceeds this threshold in the county is the Dickerson coal-fired power plant owned by the Mirant Corporation. Mirant worked hard to kill this bill, arguing that this excise tax would force it to shut down its Dickerson plant. County residents and businesses would then have to import “dirty” power from West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, which “could necessitate building more high voltage transmission lines that cut through forests and farmland.”  At the public hearing on May 18, Council members heard testimony from Mirant, the Sierra Club, the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, tax opponents, and climate change skeptics. We focused our testimony on the profits earned by the Dickerson plant, to demonstrate that Mirant’s claim was unrealistic. Mirant has sued to overturn the law.

 

Stormwater Codes

In July we were pleased when our hard work helped ensure the passage of the county’s new stormwater codes. The county council unanimously approved a new stormwater law that for the first time requires builders to use “Environmental Site Design” (ESD) techniques like green roofs, green walls, street-side rain gardens, and cisterns. The essence of ESD is harvesting rainwater on-site as a resource through reuse and landscaping. The law makes Montgomery’s code conform with the state’s Stormwater Management Act of 2007. It ranks with the most progressive stormwater codes in the country, including those of Portland (OR), Seattle, and Philadelphia. The Stormwater Partners, including the Sierra Club, won a tightening of a provision that would have exempted higher density projects from ESD. We now are turning our attention to the strengthening of Montgomery’s Forest Conservation Law. Protecting forests is step one for ESD.

 

Uniting a Region Divided

We are continuing to work on “Uniting a Region Divided.” The 1999 Brookings Institution report about the racial and economic divisions in the Washington, DC Metro area, “A Region Divided: The State of Growth in Greater Washington DC,” showed how jobs and prosperity are drawn to the western part of the region, notably Fairfax and Montgomery Counties, leaving the eastern part underdeveloped. This division means increasing sprawl in the west, rather than revitalization of urban infill to the east. It also means more time spent in cars on the clogged roads. Since 1999, the situation has only gotten worse. To help rectify this situation, the Sierra Club’s Sustainable Metro DC Campaign has announced the “Uniting a Region Divided” initiative to draw attention to the festering problem and begin to search for solutions. As a first step, we support Governor O’Malley’s recently announced Transit- Oriented Development initiative, particularly development around Metro stations in Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties. We will also participate vigorously in the development of a Regional Sustainability Plan being spearheaded by the local Council of Governments (COG) by highlighting regional inequities and pushing for balanced, transit-oriented growth.

 

Gaithersburg

We worked hard reviewing plans and testifying to present our views on the final Gaithersburg West Compromise Master Plan. In April 2010, the county council unanimously approved a changed master plan for the Life Sciences Center (LSC) area, the major part of the Gaithersburg West master plan. The final compromise plan is a chimera, a joining of incompatible parts that contradict each other. Though somewhat reduced, the plan still permits a major urban employment center, where none has existed before. Even with a lower commercial development cap, the plan will still produce one of the largest employment centers in the county, in a location that will never be really transit-oriented, and in an area with a housing shortage. Although little development, except that already authorized, is permitted until serious progress is made on the Corridor Cities Transitway (CCT), the funding and construction of the CCT is more and more remote.

 

Activism

In July, August and September we worked hard to interview all the candidates for local and state elected positions, county council, state representatives, and senators. We endorsed those candidates who we felt would have the best ability to support our areas of concern—protecting our natural habitats, reducing our carbon footprint, and promoting smart growth and mass transit.

In the Montgomery County Group, we are achieving our goals because of our effective volunteer network that works tirelessly to support the membership’s priorities.

Please go to our website at http://maryland.sierraclub.org/montgomery for a calendar of our upcoming events and copies of our recent testimony before and letters to the county council and planning board.

We will be sending out our first e-newsletter soon to all Montgomery County Group members for whom we have e-mail addresses. If you want to hear about activities and actions of your local Sierra Club group, we need to have your email address. You can send it to Hauck_D@msn.com with “e-newsletter” in the subject line.

 

Prince George’s County

Acting Chair: Chip Reilly, 301-218-3920, Chip.reilly@mdsierra.org

Group’s office: 301-277-7111

 

Southern Maryland (Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary’s Counties)

Chair: Bonnie Bick, 240-493-4919, bonniebick@gmail.com

 

By Bonnie Bick—The Southern Maryland Group is positive about the outcome of the recent Charles County elections. Four new county commissioners and only one incumbent will take the oath of office on December 7.

Anyone who followed the various campaigns, especially during the primary, knows that a driving force in the defeat of so many incumbents was that the voters have grown frustrated with business as usual in Charles County. In addition, voters want the new commissioners to put a stop to the county’s sprawl and haphazard development policies and move the county toward Smart Growth. The Sierra Club looks forward to working with the new Charles County leaders and wishes them success in providing transparent, accountable, and reliable leadership.

Governor Parris Glendening’s 1997 Smart Growth legislation was based on the concept that it makes sense from both the economic and ecological prospective to protect valuable forests and wetlands and invest in urbanized areas that already have the necessary infrastructure in place. Keys to the future success and prosperity of Charles County are reinvestment in Waldorf, providing transit-oriented development with rail connection to the Metro, and protecting our valuable natural resources while promoting heritage tourism.

The group publishes a quarterly newsletter, “News from Southern Maryland.” Check the group’s website for a schedule of outings and other events. Monthly invasive plant removals are planned.

Western Maryland (Allegany and Garrett Counties)

Chair: Sam White, 301-264-4162, sam.white@maryland.sierraclub.org or cedarrockcsa@yahoo.com

 

By Sam White—The Western Maryland Group is assisting in a local food initiative. A group of consumers and producers is actively pursuing a venue to sell local food year round. Educating the public on the economic and environmental benefits of local food will be the focus.  The group is also seeking volunteers to lead outings or to serve on the group excom. For more information, please contact Sam White at 301-264-4162 or cedarrockcsa@yahoo.com.

In addition to our newsletter, “Nature’s Advocate of Western MD,”  the Western Maryland Group has an email discussion group/Listserv at MD-WMD-FORUM@lists.sierraclub.org, for members to discuss conservation issues pertaining to Western Maryland. The Listserv is also used to announce group meetings, outings, and other events. To join, go to the website and click the “Join the list” link.  

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