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Secretary’s Blog, New Air Quality Forecasting System, and More

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New Tools for Environmental Justice, MDE Documents

One thing that really caught my attention after being named Secretary of MDE in June by Governor Hogan was all the recent strides we’ve made to serve overstretched communities across the state through our Maryland Commission on environmental justice and sustainable communities and our internal environmental justice (EJ) working group.

The case in point is the JE Screening and Mapping Tool which was posted on our website earlier this month. The tool is used by MDE staff, permit applicants and the general public to facilitate engagement during the permitting process. It integrates demographic and socioeconomic data with MDE elements like industrial facilities, sewage treatment plants, and proximity to dams to prioritize JE concerns.

The tool uses data from the American Census Survey to identify three key socioeconomic indicators that were recently signed into law in legislation that created definitions for the overworked and underserved. The indicators are areas with a minority population of 50% or more, a poverty rate of 25% or more, and limited English proficiency of 15% or more. The overall socio-economic score will be used by the MDE and will allow applicants to inform their decisions on location, permits, application and infrastructure improvements.

The bottom line is that this tool gives all Marylanders equal access to information about potential environmental risks in their communities and to participate in the decision-making process for environmental permits and additional environmental projects. It’s a great thing to help us achieve the goal of environmental equity.

Here are some other issues, progress reports, and updates on my radar screen:

West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency

Although the EPA’s power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions has now been reduced due to the United States Supreme Court decision, the power of states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions has not changed. Maryland has one of the most ambitious greenhouse gas reduction goals in the country. Our regulation of state power plant carbon pollution through Maryland’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative has rapidly reduced power plant pollution, contributed to huge improvements in quality of the air that Marylanders breathe and generated significant benefits for our economy. In addition, MDE will continue to implement Maryland’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act, the Climate Solutions Now Act and other climate change laws, which require global greenhouse gas emission reductions. savings of 60% below 2006 levels by 2031 and net zero emissions by 2045. Greenhouse gas emissions from Maryland’s electricity supply have declined nearly 60% between 2006 and 2020.

bay bulletin

The Chesapeake Bay watershed improved its overall grade to C+ last month annual newsletter from the University of Maryland Environmental Science Center. All seven reporting areas—Maryland, Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia—reported improved water quality and decreased nitrogen and phosphorus presence while the aquatic grass was spreading on the bottom of the bay. Maryland has been a leader in protecting the bay and reports like this show the progress.

Back River, Patapsco

The Return of Baltimore Town back river and Patapsco Wastewater Treatment Plants (WWTP), two of the largest such plants in Maryland, to full operational compliance is one of our top priorities. Since April, when the Maryland Environment Service (MES) arrived on site, nitrogen pollution from the Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant has been reduced to more than half of previously reported levels. The operational failures at these two Baltimore City plants are unacceptable and MDE continues to use all available regulatory tools to ensure the Back River facility is operated in a manner that protects public health and the environment. . In June, MDE and Baltimore city leaders reached agreement on a revised ordinance that requires the city to cooperate with MES to prevent or correct water pollution and ensure that the facility of Back River is operated in a manner that protects public health. MDE is currently pursuing a similar agreement with the city for the Patapsco wastewater treatment plant to ensure both facilities have a clear path to comply with their permit limits and ensure Maryland is on the right path. to achieve its 2025 goals for the Chesapeake Bay.

PFAS monitoring

We collected data, which is now available for 429 of Maryland’s 461 community water systems, and MDE is able to apply the best science to protect citizens. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) results have been shared with the water systems and samples for the remaining systems will be collected this summer. Just as we did with the previous EPA PFAS lifetime health advisory level, the department intends to collect additional samples to confirm PFAS levels and work with systems to find solutions that include treatment options and alternative sources. The department provided more detailed guidance to facilities earlier this month and MDE will continue to work with the EPA to better understand these intermediate levels, their public health impacts, and options for public water systems at the facility. ‘coming.

Open MDE

We also launched another database earlier this month, Open MDE, which provides the public with easy-to-use and searchable platforms of MDE permitting and compliance assurance data with built-in capabilities to view or download a wide range of our records and documents. Documents available include citizen complaints, compliance inspections of regulated entities, violations resulting in informal and formal enforcement actions, permits issued by the agency, and records of sewage overflows reported to the agency. This is a big step forward in providing improved customer service to the people of Maryland, resulting in greater efficiency in our operations.

• Air, land, water – Did you know?

Unveiling of the new air quality forecasting system

MDE has unveiled a new air quality forecast system for the state that more than doubles the number of designated areas where forecasts and current conditions are available.

The Air and Radiation Administration’s MDE Air Monitoring Program released the new map on mde.maryland.gov/programs/air/AirQualityMonitoring/Pages/AQForecast.aspx.
More localized statewide maps provide more accurate predictions of ozone and fine particulate air pollution according to state topography.

The state’s 10 forecast regions have year-round particulate pollution forecasts and ground-level ozone pollution forecasts from April through September. They replace the old air quality forecast system, which had only four regional areas – Baltimore Metro, Washington DC Metro, East Coast and Western Maryland.

The former Baltimore metro area will have a more condensed metro area forecast and two additional regions: North Baltimore and Northeast Maryland. The state begging has been extended to the forecast areas of western Maryland and Hagerstown. The east coast has been refined into upper and lower sections. The former DC metropolitan area will now consist of three forecast areas – Suburban DC, Southern Maryland and Maryland Piedmont.

Read more

Healthy beaches

Looking to beat the heat? Visit the MDEs Healthy Beaches Web Page first to make sure the water is safe for your summer fun.

Use the interactive map to find current conditions at your favorite beaches. Data is available during Maryland’s beach season, which runs from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Also be sure to avoid swimming near storm drains along the beach and within 48 hours of heavy rain, or until the water clears.

Maryland Green Registry Sustainability Award

Secretary Horacio Tablada announced this year’s Maryland Green Registry Sustainability Leadership Awards, given to five member organizations that have demonstrated a strong commitment to sustainable practices, measurable results, and continuous improvement. Also announced were the State Energy Awards, given to two state agencies for their energy reduction achievements.

Special recognition goes to the 2022 Sustainability Leadership Circle. These are past Leadership Award recipients who have demonstrated their ongoing commitment to continuous improvement by implementing important new sustainable practices. They serve as an inspiration to all organizations by demonstrating that patience and perseverance are often rewarded on the path to sustainability.

To find out more about these winners and the practices and projects they have implemented, simply click on the links below. Please also see this year annual results showing that the powerful members of the Maryland Green Registry continue to expand their efforts, reduce their environmental impacts and save money year after year!

Sustainability Leadership Award

Easton Public Utilities Commission

Howard Community College

Linganore Cellars

Pete Pappas and son

Tobacco Barn Distillery

State Agency Energy Award

Maryland Public Television

State Building Energy Award

Maryland Department of Transportation

Harry R. Hughes Building

2022 Sustainability Leadership Circle

Town of Bowie

IKEA customer service

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