Following a tip from an environmental group about a Baltimore scrapyard, state inspectors ultimately wrote up the company for 11 violations after seeing sediment, oil and possibly other contaminants washing off the cluttered, debris-strewn site into storm drains that eventually reach the Patapsco River. Nineteen months later, the case remains unresolved, even though documents obtained under Maryland’s Public Information Act show that follow-up inspections by the MDE found new and continuing violations there for months after the initial visit. The state considered imposing a half-million-dollar penalty, but never fined the company nor took harsher enforcement action.
An attempt to delay implementation of stormwater clean-up fees that will cost Maryland property owners millions come July failed in the legislature’s final day. The delay died after it was attached to a bill exempting nonprofits and government agencies from the fees called “the rain tax” by critics.
Despite a Republican filibuster attempt in the Senate, the General Assembly successfully passed legislation that would implement a stormwater pollution fee to raise revenue to cleanup the Chesapeake Bay.
The final chapter in federal efforts to enforce water regulations at construction sites in Maryland was written in February when Beazer Homes USA finalized a civil consent degree with the Environmental Protection Agency for alleged violations of the Clean Water Act. Beazer is one of six homebuilders in the state that the EPA charged with violations of the act.
Maryland’s residential neighborhoods will begin to see some drastically different environmental features, as developers begin working under new environmental guidelines being put in place by local governments this year.
Developers are looking at ways to implement facets of environmental design, as required under stricter rules for the management of stormwater finalized during the 2010 legislative session.
Developers would be able to get waivers from controversial new restrictions on stormwater runoff that counties have to put in place by May, under a bill approved by the House.
By a 127 to 13 vote, delegates passed an attempt at compromise between environmental and business groups Friday, which clarifies how counties should implement new regulations for stormwater management.
Lawmakers from the Eastern Shore clashed with the Secretary of the Environment Shari Wilson on Friday, calling her agency “inflexible” and a hindrance to job growth in farming and other industries in their area.
At a joint Eastern Shore delegation meeting with Wilson and Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance, the senators and delegates said environmental regulations on chicken houses, stormwater and septic systems are slowing down or halting projects in their counties.