HOGAN LAUNCHES ENERGY TASK FORCE: Gov. Larry Hogan announced Wednesday that he would launch a task force to examine conflicts over renewable energy projects, weeks after Maryland’s highest court dealt a blow to residents concerned about the spread of solar and wind farms, Scott Dance of the Sun reports. The Governor’s Task Force on Renewable Energy Development and Siting will explore how the state can promote clean power while minimizing the impact large solar and wind projects can have on rural communities.
- Formed by executive order, the task force, the administration hopes, will ultimately expedite the placement of up to 10,000 acres of solar farms — and steer them away from the fertile farmland Maryland has spent generations trying to protect, Erin Cox of the Post reports.
- The task force is being asked to submit its initial findings in December 2019, with final recommendations due within a year. But one environmental leader said green groups appear to be cut out of the process, writes Josh Kurtz for Maryland Matters. “The only distinguishing feature we can find [between legislation proposed last year and the executive order] is that [Hogan] removed participation from environmental or land use organizations,” Joshua Tulkin, Maryland director of the Sierra Club.
WA CO SOLAR SAVINGS LOWER: Half of the electricity powering Washington County government facilities is coming from four solar projects that the county leases. But, writes Julie Greene for the Hagerstown Herald-Mail, the cost of that solar energy is costing more than what was anticipated when the county signed the lease agreements four years ago, county officials said.
PRIVATE EFFORT TO PUSH HOGAN ROAD PLAN: A Maryland businessman long active in transportation issues has launched an effort to build support for the Hogan administration’s plan to ease road congestion in the Washington, D.C., suburbs. Emmet Tydings, a member of a politically active family, is the cofounder and chairman of a group calling itself Citizens4TrafficRelief. Tydings said the organization, a 501(c)(4), will focus on finding and mobilizing commuters who support the state’s plan to widen Interstate 495 (the Capital Beltway) and I-270, Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters reports.
IN 2020 CENSUS EFFORT, STATE FOCUSES ON UNDERCOUNTED: Officials are trying to increase Marylanders’ response rate in the 2020 U.S. Census by focusing on key groups that tend to be undercounted. A more complete count of the state’s population could mean more federal funding for neighborhoods that need it the most. Almost $700 billion in federal funding is doled out based on state, county and neighborhood populations captured in the Census, Danielle Gaines of Maryland Matters writes.
FROSH JOINS SUIT FIGHTING IMMIGRATION REG: Maryland’s attorney general has joined a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s new regulation to limit access to legal immigration procedures if an applicant is found to be on public benefit, Phil Davis of the Sun is reporting. Brian Frosh joined 12 other attorneys general in filing the suit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, saying in a statement that Trump’s “public charge” rule “is unlawful and un-American.”
DART CORP. TO SHUTTER 2 FACILITIES: Dart Container Corp., the Michigan-based manufacturer of foam and plastic containers and cutlery, will be closing its Hampstead and Havre de Grace warehouse and distribution centers in 2020, a move that comes as the company is building a new facility in Delaware that will house the products. Dart did not respond to inquiries about whether Maryland’s upcoming ban on foam containers, which goes into effect July 1, 2020, played a role in the company’s decision to close the two locations, Jon Kelvey of the Carroll County Times reports.
PENN STATION REDEVELOPMENT: Amtrak is set to invest $90 million overhauling Baltimore’s Penn Station, but plans for a larger redevelopment may depend on securing local backing. Penn Station Partners proposes a $140 million redevelopment of the historic rail station to include office, hotel and retail space. The Penn Station development team, Bill Struever said, has discussed the project with state Gov. Larry Hogan. He described the governor’s response to the proposed project as “enthusiastic,” Adam Bednar of the Daily Record reports.
TOXIC ALGAE BLOOMS FOUND IN MARYLAND LAKES: Toxic blooms of green-blue algae have been found in Maryland lakes, but so far, none have been found in Frederick County waters. The blue-green algae, also called cyanobacteria, have been in the news recently due to their harmful effects to dogs that swallow them. And while there are no blooms in Frederick County, other counties, including neighboring Montgomery County, have reported them, Heather Mongilio of the Frederick News-Post reports.
CARROLL GOP, ARUNDEL DEMS IN SNIT: When Scott Hollenbeck, president of the South Carroll Republican Club, read the Anne Arundel County Democratic Central Committee’s Facebook post that blamed Republicans for mass shootings, he didn’t take it well, Mary Grace Keller of the Carroll County Times reports. “I believe that to be outrageous, toxic, and venomous,” Hollenbeck said. “We have serious disagreements with the Anne Arundel Democrats.”
Join Len Lazarick on a trip to China: I’m going to China in October for a long trip to the south, a Long March tour with visits to homelands of several minority peoples. This will be my fifth trip to China since 1993, when I began hosting Chinese journalists in the U.S. This is a long 18-day trip, and does not include Beijing or Shanghai, which could be added. This is probably not for folks who have never been to China, but it will offer an experience of the “real” China. The cost is reasonable for the length, the tour is very small (just a few people, no buses, just cars or vans.) I’m trying to drum up some business, but make no money if you sign up. Here are the full details.
OPINION: ON FRANCHOT’s RUN FOR GOV: Opinionator Adam Pagnucco, in a column for Maryland Matters, writes about Comptroller Peter Franchot’s probable run for governor. Much to the dismay of the state’s Democratic establishment, Franchot appears to be planning a run for governor. … Franchot is a known quantity and it’s not too early to assess his strengths and weaknesses in a possible race for governor, he writes.
B’MORE COUNCIL PREZ PONDERS MAYORAL RUN: Ian Duncan of the Sun profiles Baltimore City Council President Brandon Scott, 35, who had vaulted himself to the presidency, part of a shakeout from the resignation of Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh in May. In doing so, he claimed the city’s second top political job for a wave of younger politicians who have won office in Baltimore. The next prize for the new generation could be the mayor’s office and Scott has said he is considering running next year.
COMPLAINT FILED ON JHU ANIMAL DEATHS : An animal rights group has filed a complaint against Johns Hopkins University for what it describes as botched surgeries on nine dogs that led to their paralysis and euthanasia, Meredith Cohn writes for the Sun.
CLEANING UP B’MORE: When John Rourke arrives today in Baltimore with a team of sanitation workers from Florida and New York, he won’t have to look far to find trash to collect and vacant lots to clear. The trash hauler was inspired to tidy up the city after President Donald Trump criticized it as a place where “no human being would want to live.” Scott Dance of the Sun reports that Derwin Hannah welcomes the help. He said litter piles higher now than at any point in the 23 years he has lived in Southwest Baltimore, and he can only do so much as he organizes regular block cleanups in his Carrollton Ridge neighborhood.
- Catherine Rentz of the Sun offers some insights into Baltimore’s trash problems.
6 MO CO SCHOOLS NAMED AFTER SLAVE OWNERS: A new report detailing the origins of the names of all Montgomery County public schools shows that six county schools are named after slave owners, Caitlynn Peetz reports for Bethesda Beat.