New report that looks at penalties for pollution: are they enough to deter industry?

No Profit in Pollution: a comparison of key Chesapeake Bay state water pollution penalty policies

 

“Industries that discharge water pollution are required to abide by clean water laws and regulations that limit how much they can pollute the nation’s rivers, lakes, streams, and other bodies of water. If they exceed their limits or, fail to implement appropriate methods for controlling their pollution, they violate the law. Such violations should trigger appropriate economic sanctions to deter all regulated entities from committing future violations.  All too often, however, polluters may weigh decisions about whether and how much to pollute from a dollars-and-cents perspective only, comparing the costs of compliance with the penalties to which they may be subject for exceeding applicable discharge limits.”

 

 

Shad restoration in the Potomac River: an economic resource and ecological experiment

Restoration of the American Shad in the Potomac River

Mr. James Cummins, Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin

(This text is a summary of Mr. Cummin’s presentation at Hood College Symposium, March 7, 2013)

The American Shad is the world’s largest herring.  It spends most of its life along the Atlantic coastline, ranging from Florida to Canada, but returns to freshwater rivers to spawn.  Its life cycle can be a 12,000 mile journey.   Shad are not only an esteemed food for humans, they are important in the ecosystem because they are food for so many different species, like the Bald Eagle and Bottlenose Dolphin.  Shad are historically important to our country and sustained many economies.  Tens of millions of shad were once harvested each spring in the Potomac alone.   They were typically smoked and salted in barrels.   They were in huge demand were transported  long distances inland.   They were the number one item in terms of dollar value transported upstream on the C&O canal. Unfortunately, through overfishing, pollution and loss of spawning habitat primarily by dams, their populations plummeted and the fishery was closed in the Potomac in 1982.

An American shad restoration program began in 1995, managed by the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin, which worked with local watermen and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.   Spawning shad are netted and their eggs collected, fertilized, taken to a hatchery and then stocked in the Potomac when they are small fry.   A dam in the Potomac River at Little Falls, near Washington, D.C., blocked their upstream migration.    In 2000 a new fish way was installed which is basically a notch in the dam with three weirs to reduce flow and allow fish to pass.    Shad stocking also became a local school project with over 50 schools now involved in hatching shad in their classrooms.    After they hatch, students go to the river to release their fry.   This has worked well for schools because they are helping restore the shad and the quick development of the fish is easy and fun for the students to observe.

The exciting news is the restoration has been successful, the American shad population of the Potomac has rebounded and in 2012 was declared a sustainable fishery once again.   Sadly though, the Potomac is the only river along the entire east coast that has improved to such an extent.   Fortunately, the Potomac now serves as the egg source for shad restoration in other rivers including the Rappahannock River in Virginia, all shad restoration rivers in Maryland, and the Susquehanna and Delaware rivers in Pennsylvania.    Hopefully, all of the rivers in the east coast will once again run silver with shad.

Urban forestry – an important component to protecting the Chesapeake Bay

Urban Forestry: An Increasingly Critical Component of the Landscape

Mr. Michael Galvin, SavATree

(This text is a summary of Mr. Galvin’s presentation at Hood College Symposium, March 7, 2013)

Current decisions are being made at a local, land parcel level.  When only one person cuts down a tree, this doesn’t make a huge difference.  However, when everyone does, it greatly impacts the environment.  When literature was published showing that the Chesapeake Bay was in serious trouble during the 1970s and 1980s, people didn’t want to put together any regulatory actions.  When goals were not being met for the health of the bay, this area implemented a series of laws that have made the area highly regulated and a model for other states in similar circumstances.  Baltimore is the site of an Urban Long Term Ecological Research project.  These began in Phoenix and Baltimore as a result of their commissioning by the National Science Foundation.  They were commissioned because for the first time in history we have more people living in cities than in rural environments.  In urban areas the water table functions differently and the hydrology is altered.  Water in urban environments becomes more of a nuisance rather than a resource (think Carroll Creek Park).  Also, urban environments are almost entirely impervious cover in most cases.  This decreases stream health.  By adopting a program for the Bay’s health, riparian forest buffer have been implemented and continue to expand.  Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs) have been used for jurisdictional plans for meeting watershed health guidelines.  These have helped to see the improvement that we do with the current health of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.  In Washington, D.C., urban tree canopy have been used significantly to improve air pollution levels.  This strategy has been incorporated into the WIPs of 5 of the 7 bay states.  We continue to experiment with strategies to improve the life of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and urban forestry has been instrumental in this process.

Will climate change impact the Potomac watershed?

Future Climate Change in the Potomac Watershed

Bart Merrick, NOAA Chesapeake Bay

(This text is a summary of Mr. Merrick’s presentation at Hood College Symposium, March 7, 2013)

Mr. Merrick outlined the models and factors that have contributed to the conclusion that climate scientists have come to: there is a warming climate trend.  These factors such as the levels of certain elements in the atmosphere have been followed for a very long time.  We are even able to ascertain some of them from ice cores, allowing us to determine these things well before there were knowledgeable scientists walking the earth.  These changes in the climate will affect all of our lives to the most personal levels such as, where you want to live and work.  Using the Global Climate Model (GCM), he explained that this splits the land, ocean and atmosphere into three-dimensional boxes.  First, we have to fully understand the way in which the processes on Earth work, and then we can transfer that into math with equations.  These are then coded and put into the model to give us a visual representation of the way in which the energy is moving on earth.  While they are many other kinds of models used for similar purposes, each has its own strengths and weaknesses.  However, as a whole all of these models are showing us that there is a warming trend happening.

To use these models effectively on a smaller scale we have to downscale them.  This relates what we see in the global model down to a local climate.  There are a couple of different ways to do that including dynamic downscaling, using the output of the global models to create a local one. This brings us to the models that we use for the Chesapeake Bay.  These include the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Model, the Chesapeake Inundation Predictions System and the Chesapeake Bay Forecasting System.  The Watershed Model shows the impact of climate on water quality.  The Inundation Prediction System shows the affects on sea level and the Forecasting System pinpoints vital characteristics and how they are affected.

All of these models do have some error.  Aside from variability, they operate under certain greenhouse gas levels, if those aren’t what exists in the atmosphere, what we see here will not be what the models will have shown us. The question is, what can we expect in the future? Depending on how severe the scenario, we could end up with water temperatures closer to those in North Carolina or even Florida.  Our normal distribution of weather patterns will move towards greater variability and a warmer trend.  This means more hot days and record-breaking temperatures too.   We will be seeing more extreme weather in general, especially in our natural disasters.  Storms that were considered once every one hundred years will be coming every sixty.  Greater precipitation will occur in the winter but not so much change for the summer months.  In essence, we could be up against a variety of things, we don’t have an exact answer.  However, this is the purpose of models, to show us a range of what we could be up against in the next ten years.

 

FCPS says no school construction planned to handle Smith/Cline annexation kids

New Market has proposed annexing the Smith/Cline property for 925 new residences, which at full buildout would yield approximately 248 elementary  116 middle school and 181 high school students.

In a (1/7/13) letter from FCPS Facilities Director, Ray Barnes (page 1 and  page 2), FCPS Facilities Director “FCPS staff has

Deer Crossing Elementary School, New Market - currently at 103% capacity

Deer Crossing Elementary School, New Market – currently at 103% capacity

reviewed the Board of County Commissioners FY 2013-2018 Capital Improvements Program and would note there is no school construction projects at any level currently scheduled for funding in this area of the county…”

FNP letter: Handouts to the elite development set

Handouts to the elite development set

Originally published November 11, 2012

County Commissioners President Blaine Young often says that Frederick County is not business-friendly and that the county has been anti-development. The problem with Blaine’s views is that the facts do not accommodate his empty arguments.From 2000 to 2010, Frederick County grew at a rate of 19.5 percent. Only two other counties grew at a faster rate. The state of Maryland grew at a rate of 9 percent. Twenty percent in 10 years is not enough for Blaine Young, because there is so much more money to be made — consequences be damned.

He is not business-friendly, but business-obsessed, and irrationally supportive of welfare for developers, caring little about the consequences his development-at-all-costs policies will have in the future. Frederick County has not been anti-development, and if the county is so hostile to developers, then how did the developments of Spring Ridge, Glenbrook, Brunswick Crossing and countless others occur? If developers are victims of bad policy, then how were they able to accommodate the housing needs of over 30,000 new residents from 2000 to 2010?

Why is Blaine Young so adamant about taking the same exact path that neighboring counties have when it comes to development? When people are sitting in miles of traffic years from now, they will know whom to thank. He seems to care little about current and future traffic congestion, which was highlighted when he decided to lower the tax developers had to pay, which went into a transportation infrastructure fund. The goal for Blaine is to make Frederick County look more like Tysons Corner, and then future generations will have to play catch up 30 years later for transportation needs, as we are seeing in Tysons right now.

Developers may strongly support Young’s policies. The problem is most people in Frederick County aren’t developers and he is accountable to all county residents, not just those responsible for much of his campaign support. Wealthy developers get a tax cut, yet those in need get their services cut.

The future success of Frederick County growth does not depend on the policy of build now, pay for infrastructure later. The county is in an advantageous position because of its location in one of the wealthiest states in the country, its proximity to the base of the federal government and three of the wealthiest counties in the country: Loudoun County, Va., Howard and Montgomery. But that doesn’t mean we have to travel down the same road of growth.

The desirability of Frederick County will be a result of a well-thought-out approach to growth and development, not one in which Blaine Young and developers have free rein, as they have no incentive to combat future traffic and school congestion, but only make money off new construction and do everything in their power to increase their profit margins. I never realized that developers were so impoverished to begin with.

In the next 10 years, do we want a growth rate of 20 percent? Blaine seems more supportive of 40 to 50 percent growth, and radically altering the landscape and character of the county. But as long as his developer cronies are making more money, it’s fine with Blaine.

A growth rate of 19.5 percent is business- and developer-unfriendly? Since when? Of course, for Young, government intervention is necessary not to help the most vulnerable, but for developers looking to increase their profit margins.

For Blaine, benefits for developers are also more important than raises for teachers in Frederick County. Frederick County is the eighth wealthiest county in the state, yet the teachers pay is ranked 22nd out of 24. Doesn’t a successful business environment depend on the recruiting and retention of high-quality educators? Once again, Blaine fails to make the connection. Compensating teachers what they deserve is simple fairness, yet Blaine prefers corporate welfare and developer handouts over providing Frederick County Public Schools teachers with what they deserve.

One would think by looking at neighboring counties that chasing revenue via mass development is not a well-thought-out strategy, unless appropriate transportation infrastructure and uncrowded schools can be realized. By slashing the fee developers had to pay for future infrastructure needs, Young unapologetically indicates that the only thing that matters for this county is more development, and everything else, including teachers pay, school crowding, and well-thought-out infrastructure, will continue to take a back seat to Blaine’s building buddies.

Frank Clements writes from Knoxville.

From the Chester River Association: clean river and its use equals grand economic benefits!

In this political climate of environmental regulations = job loss and poor economy, the Chester River Association recently completed a study that suggests otherwise. Add it to your repertoire of studies to whip out when speaking with legislators/staff/others about the need for clean water regulations!

The Chester River Association commissioned Sage Policy Group to study the economic contributions of the Chester River to our local economy. Sage measured the economic impacts of recreational fishing and boating, waterfowl hunting, annual events on the river, commercial fishing, marina operations, and property values. Read full Chester River Association’s 2012 Economic Impact Study of the Chester River, and some cool facts:

  • The Chester River supports 893 jobs in Kent and Queen Anne’s County and $26.7 million in annual labor income.
  • Visitors to annual events on the Chester, such as Downrigging and Tea Party, spend $15.4 million every year.
  • Recreational fishermen and boaters on the Chester spend $3.6 million every year on trips and equipment.
  • The nine marinas on the river support 47 jobs.
  • The Chester generates $86.2 million in local economic activity annually.

These, and other, findings show that the Chester River is an economic driver in Kent and Queen Anne’s County. People spend money on river-related activities; what would happen to their spending behavior, the local jobs they support, and the money put into our local economy, if the river were to decline in health? There are high costs associated with Bay cleanup initiatives, but the consequences of not cleaning up are high as well: local jobs and our local economy.

Enforcing water pollution laws in the Chesapeake Bay

Center for Progressive Reform report (Sept 2012)

(Read entire report here:  MD_ChesBay_Crim_Enforcement_1212)

“Going Too Easy? Maryland’s Criminal Enforcement of Water Pollution Laws Protecting the Chesapeake Bay”

The prospect of going to jail and acquiring a criminal record has a higher deterrence value than monetary civil penalties, which are often factored into bottom- line business costs.

Introduction and Executive Summary

The Chesapeake Bay is the crown jewel of Maryland’s natural resource heritage, with nearly the entire state within its watershed. The Bay provides a rich source of economic and aesthetic wealth for the state from fishing, tourism, and recreation. Unfortunately, because of pollution from industry, urban development, agriculture, and other sources, the health of the Bay is tenuous—improved from its condition in the 1980s, but still far short of healthy.

The past quarter century of restoration efforts have squandered time, energy, and resources on cooperative strategies that ultimately proved ineffective, in great measure because their lack of deterrence-based enforcement and measureable accountability mechanisms rendered them toothless. The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) efforts under the Obama Administration and a renewed call for Bay accountability mark a possible turning point.1 Working with the states, EPA set pollution limits by way of a Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), a sort of pollution diet for the Chesapeake Bay. The success of the effort, however, depends entirely on how well the pollution limits are enforced.

Typically, environmental enforcement involves civil or administrative actions, which primarily result in monetary fines. Criminal enforcement, on the other hand, can lead to much more serious penalties, like incarceration, extensive probationary periods, license suspensions, and debarment. The prospect of going to jail and acquiring a criminal record has a higher deterrence value than monetary civil penalties, which are often factored into bottom-line business costs. Effective criminal enforcement requires strong political will, increased resources, and comprehensive prosecutions. Such a powerful enforcement tool should be at the forefront of the renewed Bay restoration effort.

The Center for Progressive Reform (CPR) received funding to assess whether federal and state authorities in Maryland have fully utilized water pollution criminal enforcement to maximize its deterrent effects in the Bay restoration framework. Some key questions the report set out to analyze:

• What have water pollution criminal enforcement efforts in Maryland looked like for the past 10 to 20 years? The analysis focuses on the annual and overall number of cases prosecuted that resulted in convictions at both the state and federal levels. Also included in the analysis is an evaluation of “focus industry” offenders and incarceration rates.

• What institutional issues did criminal enforcement of water pollution laws in Maryland face? Issues such as resources, political influence, and investigative and prosecutorial protocols are researched, questioned, and analyzed.

analysis focuses on the annual and overall number of cases prosecuted that resulted in convictions at both the state and federal levels. Also included in the analysis is an evaluation of “focus industry” offenders and incarceration rates.

• What institutional issues did criminal enforcement of water pollution laws in Maryland face? Issues such as resources, political influence, and investigative and prosecutorial protocols are researched, questioned, and analyzed.

• What improvements could regulators, legislators, and practitioners make to better utilize this critical accountability tool? The report offers recommendations for improving the underlying legal frameworks, policies, and implementation of water pollution criminal enforcement in Maryland.

In short, this report provides a review of the environmental criminal enforcement authorities, mechanisms, policies, prosecution trends, penalties, and problems as they pertain to water pollution in the Chesapeake Bay and Maryland.

Summary of Data Findings

After gathering and analyzing data from a variety of sources, we conclude generally that criminal prosecution of water pollution violations at both the state and federal levels in Maryland is an underutilized enforcement tool. Among our specific findings:

• During the past decade, EPA data show that the nationwide share of Clean Water Act (CWA) federal criminal concluded cases has gone down as a portion of overall environmental criminal enforcement concluded cases. See Figure 1, Table 1, Table 2, and accompanying explanatory text.

• During the past five years, Maryland’s federal water pollution concluded cases shifted away from CWA-based charges to those involving violations of maritime laws (Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS) and the Marine Pollution (MARPOL) Protocols), focusing on a narrow subset of pollution in the Bay. See Figure 2 and accompanying text.

• State-level concluded criminal cases involving water-related offenses show a recent increase in 2011, but lack an overall sustained emphasis on water-related criminal enforcement for 1998 through 2011. See Figure 3 and accompanying text.

• Significant Bay pollution sources, such as urban regulated runoff, wastewater and sewage treatment plants, and certain kinds of agriculture, have not been a focus of environmental criminal prosecutions. See Table 3, Table 4, and accompanying text.

• At the federal and state levels, courts rarely impose incarceration for water pollution-based convictions, thus significantly reducing the deterrence value of criminal enforcement. See Figure 4, Figure 5 and accompanying text.

Gazette: The costs of doing nothing to clean up the bay

The costs of doing nothing to clean up the bay

Published: Thursday, October 4, 2012

Katherine Heerbrandt, staff writer

Frederick County has led the way in identifying the costs of cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay, but advocates say the cost of doing nothing may be much more daunting than the pricetag for reducing pollution in the bay’s 64,000-square mile watershed.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation has to navigate some rough waters to convince some stakeholders, such as the Frederick County Board of Commissioners, that the costs are worth it and that everyone will benefit.

States in the bay’s watershed — Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York —- are charged with enforcing a pollution diet for the bay, as mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, to significantly cut water pollution by 2025.

Cleanup efforts of this magnitude have no precedent, so the outcome could serve as an example to the rest of the world, according to Doug Siglin, federal affairs director for the Annapolis-based Chesapeake Bay Foundation. “Dead zones,” where nothing grows due to overuse and significant pollution, exist in waterways in the U.S. and around the world.

But some local governments and other groups, already reeling from economic setbacks, are balking at what they consider the cost-prohibitive mandates.

“There is going to be a cost, there’s no question about it … but the first [cost] estimates are always just nuts,” Siglin said.

Reduction goals that affect local governments and the building industry include upgrades to treatment plants, septics and the systems that filter pollutants from stormwater.

For farmers, changes include narrowing the time that fertilization can be applied, planting cover crops and fencing off streams from livestock, among other initiatives. Farmers receive subsidies to help cover the costs.

Frederick County initially estimated its costs of compliance at up to $4 billion or more in the next 13 years.

Shannon Moore, the county’s manager of sustainability, has been putting dollars signs to pollution reduction mandates for the past year, and looking for some flexibility in the state’s Watershed Implementation Plan to be able to achieve reduction goals in the most cost-effective way.

In the meantime, the county commissioners are not backing down in their opposition to the plan.

The commissioners and a local-land use attorney recently took aim at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation for a published opinion article espousing the value of cleaning up the bay.

County Commissioner Paul Smith (R) said the most egregious of the foundation’s assertions was the claim that the cost of reducing pollution in the bay is worth it — without mentioning the cost.

“Frederick County has been on top of this for a year … we assessed the cost, and it was excessive,” Smith said at a commissioners meeting on Sept. 20.

Attorney Rand Weinberg took up Smith’s argument during the public comment portion of the meeting, accusing the foundation of changing from a group devoted to protecting the bay to “another loud, no growth organization” that “conveniently omits the facts.”

Commissioners’ President Blaine R. Young reported that his cab company, Yellow Cab, has gotten rid of all its “Save the Bay” license plates as an act of defiance. The plates raise money for the Chesapeake Bay Trust, a grants organization that gives money to groups committed to cleaning up waterways.

Tom Zolper, spokesman for the foundation, said answers to the question of costs are “coming slowly,” in part because the effort is unprecedented and involves the future.

“We are trailblazers,” Zolper said. “This is new stuff.”

Also, many of the problems associated with water pollution have not been researched, he said.

For example, bacterial pollution of many rural streams in Western Maryland and the impacts on drinking water is a big problem, and has been for a long time, but associated cleanup costs have not been analyzed, Zolper said. Cleaning up the bay means cleaning up the the smaller waterways, including streams, creeks and rivers, he said.

But Zolper was able to compile a list of costs and potential costs of not cleaning up the bay, culled from various reports and research from academic and government agencies.

Most notably, reports from the Maryland Department of Economic and Employment Development, estimate the value of the bay related to fishing, tourism, property values and shipping activities at over $1 trillion, he said.

Despite the potential for economic loss from a degraded bay, the benefits of a healthy bay cannot be fully determined, according to Donald Boesch, a professor of marine science and president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.

People rely on nature and know there is value to it, and that does not always include a fixed dollar sign, he said.

“We have to think broadly about the benefits …. from local water quality to mitigating food risks to quality of life … Local governments should be thinking of these requirements not as a burden but as an opportunity to improve their communities,” Boesch said.

If those opposed to the policies enforcing the federal pollution diet have their way, cleaning up the bay will not only be a dream deferred, but a dream lost, Boesch said.

As a scientist and bay advocate for most of his extensive career, Boesch said the time is now for bay cleanup or it will be lost forever.

Attempts to start on the bay cleanup with voluntary compliance in 1983, 1987 and 2000 failed, Boesch said. The federal enforcement of the Clean Water Act and the states’ compliance in mandating changes is the watershed’s last chance at purity, he said.

“I am a scientist who uses real data and real observations, and I don’t see any empirical evidence, given our past record, that we will ever have another chance like this,” he said.

Pressures from climate change and population growth will soon be insurmountable, Boesch said.

kheerbrandt@gazette.net

Jefferson Tech Park (JTP) documents

Documents and background for Jefferson Tech Park (JTP)