In 2010, the recharged
effort to improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay attracted wide
interest and garnered many headlines, probably the most of any
environmental story. The attention was well deserved. Marylanders worked
diligently throughout the year to set limits on water pollution -- and
plotted a course that finally puts the restoration of the Bay within
But that wasn't the only
good news this year. In Maryland, where the quality of our air is the
best it's been in a long time, we saw signs that air pollution programs
are making a real difference. We continued to help lead the way in
addressing climate change by reducing greenhouse gases -- which also
helps our economy and creates jobs. We made progress in cleaning up
industrial sites and protecting children from lead poisoning. American
Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) projects put people to work and
provided environmental and health benefits.
An MDE initiative to
improve our enforcement of environmental regulations continued to
produce results: for the third straight year, the Department issued more
enforcement actions than in any previous year.
And Maryland businesses
and organizations shared ideas on environmentally sustainable practices
through the Maryland Green Registry, a Smart Green and Growing Program
that earlier this year won a national award for pollution prevention.
Key provisions of the
Healthy Air Act -- the most sweeping air pollution program ever in
Maryland and the toughest power plant emission law on the East Coast --
went into effect in 2010. The state's major power plants met the
requirement to install "scrubbers" to help meet benchmarks for reducing
Hot, sunny weather helps
to create ground level ozone -- and the summer of 2010 was a
record-breaker for heat. But the number of unhealthy air days would have
surely been higher if not for our progress in improving air quality.
MDE also continued to push for tougher federal standards for air
quality, including regulations that would reduce the amount of ozone
transported into Maryland from other states.
were finding ways to help. Hundreds came to Camden Yards on a summer
Saturday to trade gasoline lawn mowers for cleaner, battery-powered
models (discounted as part of a program co-sponsored by MDE).
And progress continued in
addressing climate change. Maryland worked with a coalition of
northeastern states to establish the start of a framework for a
low-carbon fuel standard. Maryland's participation in the Regional
Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the country's first cap-and-trade
program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, has raised more than $130
million for such initiatives as low-income energy assistance and for
energy efficiency and clean energy programs that will lower greenhouse
gas emissions. The program will reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the
State's electricity generators by about 10 percent by 2019.
Maryland continues to
address needed cleanup at some of our state's most polluted sites. MDE
staff worked throughout 2010 to advance the cleanup of areas at the
Sparrow Point steel-making facility and successfully pushed for improved
communication between the company and the community. Also in 2010,
Maryland asked that the Dwyer Property, a former munitions plant in
Cecil County, be added to the national Superfund list of polluted
properties. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommended that
the site be added to the list.
We continued to make
progress in addressing lead poisoning, the biggest -- and entirely
preventable -- environmental threat to children. The annual Childhood
Lead Registry report for 2010 showed that more Maryland children were
tested last year for lead poisoning and fewer were poisoned by lead than
in any year since figures have been collected. But, as First Lady Katie
O'Malley pointed out in announcing those results, we must do more --
and that includes spreading the word that lead poisoning can also occur
in owner-occupied homes as well as in older rental units.
MDE moved forward in 2010
to implement requirements of a new program to improve the management of
manure at animal feeding operations. The program will reduce polluted
runoff from over 500 poultry operations and help farmers comply with
Federal and State laws.
To meet Maryland's
ambitious two-year milestones, we have more than doubled our efforts to
reduce nitrogen, the most serious pollutant in the Bay. Indeed, we
worked on many fronts in 2010 to improve the quality of our waterways.
We took steps to reduce
pollution from stormwater runoff, the fastest-growing source of Bay
pollution. Regulations adopted in 2010 require "environmental site
design" -- that is, permeable surfaces, vegetative buffers, and other
small-scale treatment practices to trap and absorb stormwater -- for new
Also this year, MDE worked
to address the largest source of stormwater pollution -- our already
developed areas. Montgomery County supported a stormwater permit issued
by MDE that is one of the most progressive in the nation and provides a
framework for similar stormwater permits for other Maryland
Maryland's septic upgrade
program continues to be a tremendous success, with more than 2,200
septic systems upgraded through MDE's program. Meanwhile,
Marylanders continue to upgrade many of our largest wastewater treatment
plants with Enhanced Nutrient Removal technology. We have upgraded 16
plants, and another 15 are under construction.
ARRA funding created and
saved jobs and helped pay for projects that provided environmental and
public health benefits. MDE administered the $121.6 million for 85 clean
water and green projects.
Finally, 2010 has proven
to be a pivotal year in the long fight to restore the Chesapeake Bay.
Maryland worked with the EPA on the development of a Chesapeake Bay
Total Maximum Daily Load, often called a pollution "diet." We were the
only State, along with the District of Columbia, to submit an adequate
Draft Watershed Implementation Plan to meet that diet. After hearing and
considering public comment to our proposal, we are putting the
finishing touches on a refined Plan that will significantly reduce
pollution by 2020 -- a self-imposed deadline five years ahead of the EPA
and the other Bay States.
It is a plan that will
improve our environment and public health, help create jobs, and protect
the economic value of the Bay.
These are but a few of the
many accomplishments this year, achievements that occurred during
difficult economic times and that could only be made possible through
the hard work of State employees and our stakeholders, and I thank you
for all you did this year to protect the environment and public health.
On behalf of our talented
staff -- scientists, administrative specialists, emergency responders,
meteorologists, modelers, radiation experts, geologists, project
managers, planners and engineers and more -- thank you for your work to
achieve the important progress we are making. If you attended a
stakeholder meeting, submitted a comment, sponsored a cleanup, sought
funding for a project, reported a problem, or obtained a permit, you
have improved Maryland's environment. The Department looks forward to
working with you in 2011.
On a personal note, I want
to take this opportunity to offer many thanks for your support over the
past four years, as I recently announced my decision not to seek a
second term. Serving the citizens of Maryland as Secretary of the
Department of the Environment has been my honor and my privilege. I am
enormously proud of our collective accomplishments and particularly of
the significant progress we've made under Governor O'Malley's
leadership. I look forward to following Maryland's continued
achievements in protecting our air, land, water, and public health.